Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Writing in Past Tense Means PERSPECTIVE

Storytellers are in a good position to know that a day will come when things as they are today will feel different. We write most stories in the past tense, and this contains the notion that sometime later the events feel/look/are different.

Perspective is embedded in storytelling. Not only by use of the past tense, but in the convention that events have resolutions. Even when they don’t have clear “finally, all’s well”— there is at the very least a coming to terms with what had passed.

I am using this honed skill as best I can, and it works. It helps navigate the challenges of a global pandemic and lives interrupted. Not being a young’un helps also, even if me and mine are at greater risk as we get wiser.

It also helps that I work alone from home even in normal times, (which weren’t that long ago, and will return G-d willing soon) and for all the scary stuff pouring out of every pore of the Internet beast, there are places of respite and I know where to find them.

I’m not going to put the now internet-ubiquitous “stay safe, everyone" out here, because life is inherently not safe. Everyone knows how to be a bit safer, and you don’t need the guilt of imperfection of conduct. I know you’re doing the best you can and that’s good.

But I do plea for perspective. Someday soon, this pandemic will be in the past.

{Brought to you by the letter P ⇧⇩😉}


©Shelagh Duffett


Evelyn said...

Interesting thoughts from a writer's perspective. Wishing you the best.

Kelly Hashway said...

I can’t wait until this is just another story we talk about as our past.

MirkaK said...

Perspective is not just a writer's benefit. As I reflect on my experiences, especially on my parents, the older I get, the more perspective I find myself gaining about them. Not that I necessarily have answers to my many questions. I sorely wish I could ask them, but my parents are gone. Rather, the distance that comes with the flow of years enables us to re-view, to see again, from another perspective, maybe one with more understanding and compassion. And once something passes, there's also less anxiety and fear. Anxiety doesn't arise with respect to the past, but to the unknown future.

Mirka Breen said...

Yes, Mirka, to what you wrote^.

I'm composing a post about the Holocaust, which our parents survived, for next week. I talk to mine all the time though they're not on this earth anymore. At the present moment, I'm actually glad about the latter.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was such an interesting post. I never thought of writers using past tense narratives as a reflection of perspective. You posts are always moments for reflection. I'm glad your work is from the home so that the current crisis isn't too disruptive. I do wish everyone to stay safe, though, because in my walks around Midtown I see too many examples that people don't take the medical advice seriously. No masks. No distance. I see a lot of people doing the right things, too, but I would have to say what I encounter is about fifty-fifty. It really is worrisome. Meanwhile, I hope you are getting all your thoughts down for later use.

Vijaya said...

We should never lose perspective and what a gift it is for us writers to be able to reflect not just on the past but what's happening presently. This pandemic will be over soon--the curves for epidemics tend to be symmetrical. If we've already hit the peak, we'll begin to see a decline and in another 18 mo. most of us will be exposed and it will no longer be "novel." And my prayer is that we return to a better life.

Sherry Ellis said...

This is a difficult time, but I'm glad we have the internet to connect us and to help many of us continue working.

I like the Peace artwork you shared.

Jenni said...

So true that a writing gives us perspective. Things don't get tied up so neatly in real life, but difficulties do end. And age and experience teaches that too. I'm still not the most patient person now, but I am more patient, realizing that neither good times or bad times last forever. My life also has not been disrupted much either by all that is going on, and for that, I'm very thankful.

Sue said...