I think writers, by nature, tend to be observers. Well, okay, I can’t really speak for the rest of the writing community, but it seems a common trait among my friends. And it’s definitely true for me. I pay attention and often catch things most other people miss.
Like nuances of speech, the way strangers (or acquaintances) react to things people thoughtlessly spout (be they positive or negative in nature), and the possible differences in a sports team when they come out of the locker room after halftime. Maybe they’re pumped up again, or maybe they’re down and out. It all depends on the coaches’ mood, the words they used, and how those words were delivered.
I notice, for instance, the way people look away from one another when they’re telling a lie, or how they plead with their eyes when they’re telling a painful truth. And while I believe what other people think of me is none of my business, it’s sometimes hard to miss an emotion or thought when it travels across their faces and into their body language.
Once someone forms an opinion of another, it’s not an easy thing to change. Out of those formed opinions come misconceptions that turn into rumors, and rumors turn into stories, and stories into actions that may, or may not, be warranted.
This is the stuff of interest we read about in novels, be they fiction or nonfiction. In many instances, it’s the beginning of conflict. The catalyst, if you will.
Luckily, fiction and real life are two totally different things. The question is where will we allow our misconceptions, our preconceived judgments, or our unnoticed observations to lead us? Will we be the spreaders of rumors? The instigators of unwarranted arguments? The pot-stirrers in the mix?
Or will we find it in us to take a step back and observe the truth for what it is? People for who they truly are rather than what we (or others) have made them out to be? What will be the ending to our personal stories, and who will ultimately decide?
Do we become the person other people think they see, or do we try to correct their misconception? Or do we continue on with our own lives, ignoring the untruths and allowing those people to live as they choose?
For once, my above questions are rhetorical. I don’t know that anyone truly has all the answers. But I am curious. Have you ever felt labeled for reasons you couldn’t name?