All of Your Tomorrows Were Yesterday

tombstone imageThe title of this post is a rather somber thought. It is a thought most of us have had one time or another about someone else, always seeking to avoid that same thought about ourselves. Some say such a thought is a sign of clinical depression or the first step towards suicide, but, every human must face it.

As a human and possibly a human who is also a writer, you must face this thought far more than once in your life. How many of you reading this claim to have half a novel in a desk drawer or sitting on a shelf somewhere?

How many of you reading this worked a job ten plus years only to have the job end and with it all of those things you planned to do in that career? Far too may of you lived through that particular mystery of life when the Mitt Romney’s of the world started off-shoring factory jobs faster than IHOP makes pancakes.

As a writer, particularly a writer of fiction or historical work, it is your job to find that moment in your character’s life where they come to this reality. Where everything they and the reader hoped would happen in the life of this character suddenly wink out. That moment of sincerity when they can no longer live for themselves or their dreams. When they must take that last grand step aside so another, possibly an offspring, can have a dream and a future.

Children tend to be given stories with happy endings. The evil villains are always beaten by one brave person and the world lives happily ever after. Reality comes for all of us. For some, after Wall Street bankers engaged in massive mortgage fraud without going to jail, that reality was living in a car and trying to hide the fact you didn’t have a home while attending school.

For girls on a more traditional course through life that reality comes when they become mothers and hopefully parents, that those Harlequin romances they enjoyed in their youth are simply a fantasy which doesn’t happen. All of those dreams they had stopped the moment they chased hearth and home harder than those other dreams.

Boys tend to have different paths into reality. That life long factory job which allowed them to be king of the roost goes off-shore. Those military movies and books making war look so easy and glorious turn out to be as fictional as the Harlequin romances when you are sleeping in mud with mortar shells landing all around or trying to tell where the bullets are coming from with sand blowing in your eyes.

People always used to talk about the midlife crisis men tended to have around the age of 40. That little red sports car. Slipping around on the wife with a young woman. That last great flailing against the reality that all of your tomorrows were yesterday. All of those adventures they planned on having are now all but impossible.

hot rod grammaGiven the rise of women in the work force we now see and here similar tales for them. While fewer of them buy that little red sports car (at least until they hit that hot rod gramma stage) you do see plenty of the 40-something crowd shopping in the Jr. Miss sections wearing bare mid-drift outfits showing off their C-section scar. Even if you live under a rock you’ve heard of the cougar phenomenon.

Humans fight harder against the reality that all of their tomorrows were yesterday than any other force. Each writer, especially a fiction writer, needs to embrace this reality. Even in a romance novel, the ones which really endear people to them, not the ones written for Tweens, it is the struggle against all of their tomorrows being yesterday which pulls the audience in.

Titanic cover artDon’t believe me? Think back to “Titanic.” Yeah guys, that movie you were forced to watch time and time again completely against your will. It wasn’t all of the drippy sweep her off her feet romance stuck that movie into the hearts of women, though I’ve never met one which would admit it. What managed to sell that movie was Leonardo’s character freezing to death in the water and her being forced to let him sink, then, on the day all of her tomorrows were about to have been yesterday, she came back to that spot and jumped into the icy water.

All of your tomorrows were yesterday, so what did you do with yesterday?

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