I am a super fan of the Olympics. Specifically, I adore the winter games. Even as a child, I would make it a point to watch every sport I could during that two-week span of Olympic coverage on television. Back then, the games were on one channel, and we got to see many of the sports that Americans loved. Of course, we didn’t see any of the obscure sports, but that did not matter. The most popular sports, like skiing or figure skating, were always on during prime time.
To me, the sports always looked fun and always seemed easy when I watched them on television. Even though I never had any experience in any of them, I imagined that I would be able to practice many of the sports with little difficulty. When an athlete fell or otherwise lost an event, I would shake my head or scoff. I never really understood how difficult such sports are.
Of course, the fact I love to watch these winter games made me curious about trying them out on my own. While I have yet to learn to ski or snowboard, many of you know that I started ice skating seriously about a year ago. Now, if you have never ice skated, I can tell you it looks much easier than it is. When I started, I realized that figure skates are very heavy, especially when one leg needs to be lifted in a landing or a spiral. It took me about six months to be able to lift my leg high enough for a proper spiral. Of course, I still have to work on keeping my skating leg straight and arms and neck in the proper positions.
Clearly I am a work in progress on the ice.
The point is, when we play the casual observer, things often look much simpler than when we play the part of the actor. We watch others perform and automatically judge them on their performance. And when they mess up, we think they are flawed. However, when we are put in the position of the performer, we start to realized how difficult the activity really is.
Recently, I’ve put up another novel for sale on the Kindle called Evening Prayer. Unlike the two other books I self-published last year, which were written in third person limited, I wrote this new one in first person. This gave me a new perspective in writing, where I literally had to become the character when writing. It sounds bizarre, but it was true.
And ‘becoming the character’, so-to-speak, gave me a chance to put myself in the character’s shoes. I started to consider his language, his complaints and his fears in a way that did not come from the snarky perspective (i.e. third person limited) I used with the first two books. Instead, I saw myself as the character. Then I considered how I would change and why. As I considered these things, I saw his difficulties as valid. They were not just his struggles. They were mine, too. I could relate to him. If I were him, I think I would also find his challenges almost insurmountable. So, when he does overcome his obstacles at the end of the book, I see his success as incredible. And I see his faith as a miracle.
I find it a challenge to write in first person, but ultimately, very rewarding. It develops a certain amount of empathy and compassion in ourselves as we consider writing as a flawed character. And as I continue to write in first person with the current novel I am writing (its working title is Invertebrates, and will out sometime in the late spring or summer of 2012), I hope I can transfer that skill into other areas of my life. Or, at least to my viewing of the Olympics. After all, the games will be back on the air this summer (I know they’re not the same as the winter ones, but the Olympics are the Olympics). It would be nice to be a little less critical and a little more understanding.
- Some 2002 Olympic heroes returning to Salt Lake ()
- Innsbruck ready to welcome 1,059 athletes aged 15-18 for inaugural Winter Youth Olympics (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- 1st Winter Youth Olympics opens in Innsbruck (seattletimes.nwsource.com)