Thursday, 15 December 2011
Author Spotlight - On Writing by Sadie Cuffe
In our high school English class we read, "The Sun Also Rises" (Hemingway). I don't remember many details about the book, but I can't forget the exchange I had with the teacher over one of the lead characters. I thought the heroine gave in too easily and gave away her self respect. Mrs. Perry responded, "Remember, you can't judge characters by your standards." Then she added, "But I agree with you."
After all these years, I realize the wisdom of that statement in my writing and my life. It helps us work together well (mostly) because I let Sophie be Sophie and she lets me be me. I think it's slightly more difficult for Soph, because, well I'm me, and she's type AA (but she always tolerates my upside-down notes and around-the-corner arrows with grace!)
But in the world of writing, this English teacher gem opens up a blank page of possibilities beyond personal reserves and even past our imaginations. It helps us create villains, saints and sinners who aren't cookie cutters of Cuffes (say that three times fast!). And, in the creation of heroes and heroines, particularly in historical settings like FITS, it motivates us to get outside our heads and into theirs. Hawk and Alice aren't exactly how we thought they'd be after we typed the first sentence.
We thought Hawk would be tougher, but in his toughness on himself, he emerged a more sensitive and conflicted human being. And Alice, fortunately, refused to let herself be eclipsed beneath our whimpering mental and emotional block. Characters take us on a journey of the mind and soul if we let them be who they are and not who we are. Sure they're just a bunch of letters pushed together on a screen, but they're individuals.