Monday, January 18, 2010

One of these days is not like another

I woke up this morning thinking about a few things. One, it was my birthday and two, woop-de-doo. I have two kids who have no idea that it's my birthday, my husband left for work before I even woke up, and I'm far too old to expect anything from my mommy. This day, for all intents and purposes, is the same as any other day except for one thing: I really want to feel special. Most days, I'm perfectly happy giving and giving of my time and attention to others, but today I feel deep down that someone should wait on me. But it's not going to happen. So I move on.

As always, though, my thoughts drift to how any of this could be relevant to my writing. And then I realized that none of my characters have ever known when their birthdays were. Which is very surprising considering I do tend to know mundane data that I never put in a short story or novel. But this kind of data doesn't seem very mundane at all. In fact, the knowledge of one's birthday is usually extremely important in determining your sense of self. "On this day I was born" and "on this day is when I became a part of humanity." And though I don't hold any weight to horoscopes and such, I do still believe that the time of year you were born helps to shape who you are, especially if you grew up in a region that experiences the full-blown changes of all four seasons. And yet, I've never once considered the time of year my characters were born or under what conditions they came into the world. So how can my characters possibly be seen as real people if they don't know that one little detail. Even people who don't celebrate their birthday still know on which date they were born, because it's important.

So I've resolved to give birthdays to each and every one of my characters from now on. The data may never make its appearance in any of my works, but I will know and so will my characters. And maybe today will turn out to be a little less mundane than it's started out as. Here's hoping! :)

~Emily White


  1. Happy Birthday, and you are special: the only you in all the known universe and a fairy fanatic besides. What could be more special than that?
    As for character birthdays, it came onto play in one story where the Princess turned 18 in Phillipi, but was so depressed about her lack of success in her adventure, she neglected to tell her companions...

  2. Hope your birthday turned out better than it began.

    When I created my calender system for Meridia, I pinned down birthdays (month and year) for several characters, just so that I could refer to ages correctly and consistently. Some of the characters have had their birthday already for the year, while others haven't had them yet. You don't have to make an exact date, but you should know at least which part of the year it is. After all, someone born in November 2009 is only 2 months older than someone born in January 2010, not a full year.

    People have a tendency to refer to events based on their relation to other events in their lives with the birthday being a significant one even for those who don't like it.

  3. Jaleh,

    The day did end very well. Jason took over with the kiddies when he came home and I spent the evening pampering myself. It was quite lovely.

    Thank you!


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