Santa (or should we tell children the secret?)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Let’s talk about the most imaginary of friends, Santa Claus. I read an article called “In Defence of Santa Claus” and it made me think. (Sorry, no angry rant)

MerryOldSanta

I’m not sure what to do when I, eventually, have children. I discovered the truth about Santa when I was relatively young. It wasn’t a shock or really much of anything. I just realized that my mom and brother had put out the presents.

My wife, on the other hand, was told on the bus and got into a fight (not physical – it involved a lot of yelling) about it and wouldn’t believe it even when her parents told her.

Why was it harder for her than for me? I don’t know. Maybe it was the level of honesty of our parents? My wife’s parents were always completely honest with her.

My mom, on the other hand, reveled in telling fanciful lies. She had me convinced for a long time that one of our ancestors had created French Fries. She even had a long elaborate story to go with it. It was her way of both teasing and training me not to believe everything I hear. They were always interesting and fun. (I miss her.)

So what does that mean? What does a little fib matter if it brings magic to the holidays? Saying that Santa brings magic, makes it sound like those who discover the secret don’t have magical holidays. That’s simply not true. There’s something special about the holidays that is more than the sum of its parts.

I’m leaning towards letting my future kids know that it’s a story. Does that make me:

What’s your opinion on Santa? Malicious lie or Fanciful fib?

Éric

Diversity in Writing

My brother, who is a great guy, has always loved performing and after our mother died he started taking classes and seriously throwing himself into acting. It was roughly the same time I started writing seriously.

Authenticity

When he talks about the craft of acting he often brings up “truth” or “honesty” in reference to a performance. It got on my nerves until I understood that he was talking about authenticity or making a character feel like a real person. (My English teacher would say three dimensional.) It’s a concept that brought his acting from talented but hammy to truly good. He’s been getting better with every project by always keep that idea in his mind.

Writing and Authenticity

In writing it’s just as important to make your characters authentic and relatable. As a writer (I’ve written 5 books, fifty plus short stories, and over 200 blog posts. I’ll call myself that and if this guy has a problem with that I’ll gladly challenge him to a write off.) Sorry… As a writer, I concentrate as much as I can on characters. My favourite scenes are usually domestic ones, how someone eats, cleans etc. tells me more about a character than all the clever quips in the world. (I like those too though)

The problem with being authentic is trying to understand and represent characters that are completely different than me. Let’s face it, I’m a 30 year old white, middle class, male, who rates a 2 on the Kinsey scale. I am what 90% of books, movies, and television portray as the norm.

This makes me worry that I’m not being authentic in my writing. If I’m not the best case is that that characters come off as unbelievable, at worst they come off as sad stereotypes. I don’t want to misrepresent my characters or my (eventual) readers.

Why Does Diversity Matter

I’ve heard the old saying of, “Write What You Know” it is a platitude handed down from the gods of writing years ago. It’s also wrong. It’s an attitude that says only aged, world weary, grizzled writers should write.

So why do I want to write about characters who don’t resemble me? Why is it important? It just is. As a kid I had hundreds and thousands of characters that looked and thought like me, that I could relate too. I want that level of relatability for everyone. I want a world where you can pick up a book and see a character that you fully understand and a whole bunch that teach you that as humans we are all fundamentally the same.

Learning about other sexes, cultures, religions, nationalities, sexualities, sexual preferences, and disabilities helps make them more understandable and breaks the “Us vs Them” mentality.

It’s also more interesting.

Conclusion

I haven’t lived as a Polynesian girl with anorexia, or a transgendered boy raised by a conservative family but I have written about them.

In Parasomnia, (AKA the book that is taking me way too long to edit) I tried my best to be authentic and to make each character feel real. I hope I succeeded but I’ll only know by finding beta readers who can call me out on anything that is wrong or stereotypical.

 

What’s your opinion on diversity in books?

Éric