We’ve been thinking a lot about choices in the Heaton household just lately and how important they are. How saying yes to one thing can take you down a completely different road to saying no, how saying this is what I want to do, can change everything completely and forever.
Choices and change can be frightening. Choices can sometimes be made easily and sometimes, require a lot of forethought.
This year, I’ve had three teenagers receive their GCSE results. They had to make the choice as to whether they were going to put the work in, in class, whether they were going to revise and whether they were going to give their all in their exams. The results were mixed, but I know they did their very best and now my three teenagers have choices ahead of them.
Which college to go to?
Which courses are they allowed to do?
What do they want to do in life? What are their goals and ambitions?
These last questions are ones I frequently consider when thinking up a new story. What do I already know about my characters, but what do I think they want from life? What is it in their past history that might be holding them back? What are their goals, ambitions and values? What do they want more than anything?
Because once I make those choices for them, that is the road upon which they will travel. There may be bumps in the road, diversions. They may even do a complete about turn and make another choice, due to circumstances.
But there are always choices. There are always options, no matter how cornered or hopeless everything may seem.
In Their Double Baby Gift, Dr Brooke Bailey makes the choice to return to work after having her baby girl. The hero, Major Matt Galloway makes the choice to take over his wife’s old post and uphold the promise his wife made to Brooke, before she died. Their lives could have been so different if neither of them made those choices.
Matt soldiers on through life despite his PTSD, putting on a brave face and creating a mask for everyone else, but what would his life be like if he gave into the fear and the terrors and flashbacks?
They would both be completely different people.
As authors, we are always making choices for our characters and this for me, is the best part of story-telling. We might put our characters through some rough ups and downs occasionally, but we’re always nice to them in the end! And after the book finishes? Well, their story and their happy ever after is completely up to them, though I guess we all hope and assume they continue to love each other for the rest of their lives.
We all make choices each and every day as to what we’re going to put into our relationships with each other. Supporting a spouse, guiding a child, being there for a friend or neighbour.
As writers we make good art.
But as people, let’s make good choices, too. Choices that show our love and support of one another through tough times and the sometimes difficult and unfair world we live in today. Make good art. Make good choices. And everyone will be there to support you.