Thinking About Inspiration: Relationships

 

Are you my reader? I’m looking for you. There are so many things that I love to think about, and one of them is what connects people to one another.

One of my favorite book series when I was a pre-teen/teen was Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming Series, a series I read soon after I read Ender’s Game (and the rest of the Ender series), which was a life-changing, and indeed, life-building experience for me. Having attached to my first “favorite” author, I read the Homecoming series. While many of the major plot points and themes have now been lost to memory, I do remember one element of the series that I thought intriguing, something that I see in myself.

There was a character in the series named Hushidh, who was the older sister to Luet, who just happened to be the love interest of the series’ main character, Nafai. Luet was a waterseer, a person connected to God (the Oversoul) through prophetic visions. I thought that Luet was incredibly interesting, and, being of a certain impressionable age, I wanted to take on a lot of characteristics: her wisdom, her grace, her virtue. I decided I’d name my first daughter Luet, because I decided that the name was beautiful. Basically, I was an idiot when I was 14. My step-father, who also read the series, thought that I should pay more attention to Hushidh, an important, but relatively minor, character. He thought that she and I had a lot in common. Being 14 and wanted to be the star of every show, it would be inconceivable that I should have something in common with the minor and less important sister.

I was an idiot back then.

Hushidh stuck with me because she and I do share a few things. Her character has always been something that I’ve found intriguing, and that allure is something that I think about when I create my characters and, more importantly, when I start writing dialogue.

Let me explain:

In the world that Orson built, Hushidh was considered a “raveler.” A Raveler could see the connections between all of the people in her world through visions of threads between them. She could see which threads were strong, which threads were weak, and she knew how to use words and actions could weaken or “break” those threads as the group needed. She could strengthen them, too, with words and actions. This seemed like such a minor thing at the time I was reading the books. There is nothing sexy about knowing how people can interact or to know that some bonds between people were unbreakable.  Who wants that in comparison with her sister, who could freaking interfact with God.  But Hushidh’s ability was exceptionally helpful and important in many key parts of the series. Indeed, the power to read people, to discern relationships between people, to pinpoint just the right thing to say is an incredible ability.  So many of the powerful people in the world we live in are not the ones who we see on TV. The people in the background, the advisers and the confidants, the thinkers and the knowers, the ones who are the keepers of information, those are the most powerful people on Earth. Hushidh was one of those people. She was the one who could see what people couldn’t see, know what people couldn’t possibly know, and she was able to distribute that knowledge when and how she saw fit. Indeed, Hushidh was the more powerful sister. In the world of power and powers, sexy isn’t always best.

As an adult, I have built  a fairly good relationship with words. Whether I’m speaking, reading, writing, or even listening, I have a great relationship with words and their power. I learned at an early age that words have power, with a lot of potential to help or hurt, and as an adult, knowing that has been powerfully important. Judicious use of words is a skill, one that must be garnered over time. While I’ve yet to be able to talk my way out a traffic ticket, I’ve been able to write my way into some pretty exclusive places and I’ve managed to talk my way into influential ears.  Hushidh’s threads exist here on Earth, and they can be very visible if you know how to find them.

Relationships between people are fascinating to me. From the strangest stranger to the strongest lover, I love to watch people interact. I wonder about their thoughts and scrutinize their actions. People watching is an art in and of itself, and can take up large swaths of down time when in waiting situations. Living in a major metropolitan area like Boston, every character and relationship imaginable is often on display in the most random of places. Thank God for my trusty Moleskine or, in a pinch, my smartphone, or else I’d miss wonderful nuggets!

How deep can a relationship go? Is life or death the only measure of devotion? Can the briefest kiss convey an entire lifetime of emotion? Can a look ignite a war? Can a yawn set off a firestorm? These are some of things that I explore in my writing. If the threads that bind us together interests you, if they make you wonder, even dream…if they keep you staring overly long at the couple in the corner arguing over the fortune cookie, or the child tugging at his mother on a Friday night subway train…then I hope you’ll stick around and read my stories. These things excite me, too.

Are you my reader? I hope you are! Stick with me and check back here to see what I’m doing.

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3 thoughts on “Thinking About Inspiration: Relationships

  1. What a great post. I love how admit to being “an idiot” back then 🙂 We were all idiots back then. I think if I live to be 90, I’ll say, “I sure was an idiot in my 40’s.”
    I’m a big fan of OSC as well. I especially liked his Alvin Maker series, and recently a book called Magic Street.
    If you’re interested in people watching, and what gestures mean to different people, there’s a great article by Clifford Geertz, an anthropologist, about what he calls “thick description.” Unlike other academics, his work isn’t overly scholarly to the point of being unreadable 🙂
    Can be found here: http://people.ucsc.edu/~ktellez/geertz1973.pdf

    If you like that, he has another great read about Balinese cockfighting (no, I’m not assigning homework, don’t worry – just if you find yourself itching for a fascinating, short read).
    Can be found here: http://uwch-4.humanities.washington.edu/~WG/~DCIII/120F%20Course%20Reader/CR5_Geertz_Deep%20Play.pdf

    • Thanks so much, Jeff! I feel so embarrassed sometimes when I think back to those teenage years. What a mess! Whoo!

      OSC is a wonderful writer. I try to overlook some of his recent controversies because I enjoy his thinking and because his influence on my life was profound enough that I can separate this philosophies as a writer and an artists from the way he chooses to practice his faith. I hope that other people can be as reflective, too.

      Thank you for the links. I’ll read them tonight before I get back to world building! I’m pumped to read them!

      How are you doing on your projects?

  2. My projects: I have a book in editing that I hope to start submitting soon. My wife has my laptop and it’s killing me. I hate writing on her imac.

    goodluck with your to-do lists 🙂

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