Moving after living in one place more than twenty years is not something I highly recommend. I now believe we should have moved every ten years to ensure that the tendency to pack rat (old school term) or hoarding (new school term) could be held in check somewhat. However, we wanted our kids to stay in one place, attend neighborhood schools, etc. Now, we pay the price. I’ve lost count of the trash bags that have exited. Although I’ve kept a lot of my expansive book collection, I forced myself to sell or give away a lot also. Going through the drawers, file cabinets, etc. has been a revelation. All the things that made up our lives and 32 years of marriage.
At times it has been emotional and at times comical. As humans we are such a bizarre museum of the past, present, and future all housed within us. We hold who we are, who we were, and who we will be. As I’ve archived aspects of my life in boxes and crates, I’ve thought about my characters. If a character is real, they must have this same aspect. Of course, that requires a lot of hard work on the writer’s part.
Building a past, present and future for your character before you have a completed work or as you’re completing a work is a daunting task at times. Like so many things we do as writers though, it is worth it when the character jumps off the page for the reader.
How do you build your characters’ lives – past, present, and future?