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We are Fickle and Unreliable

By May 2, 2012Blog

The great lie of longform narrative is that people are consistent, when in truth many of us are happily inconsistent for no dramatic reason at all. Some of us have major continuity issues. Some of us live our lives with a complete disregard for novelistic conventions, stable character development, or even basic logic.

Be honest. Have you ever felt that you were changing so rapidly, or living so much in the moment, that what you did or who you were the week or even day before felt like a foggy memory? My friend Mike calls this being 16 or 17. (Remember the constant renewal of adolescence?) As Mike remembers it, “You could fall in love fourteen times in an afternoon, every conversation was the final word, every movie was a paradigm shifting apocalypse.”

As a writer who has tried to build characters that have some semblance of consistency, I am aware that there are times in our lives (even beyond youth!) when we are in flux mode; when identity shifting experiences seem to happen daily, even hourly.

All of this to say, I love this book, I Keep Changing, by Bob Gill and Alastair Reid. I love this book because it shows that sometimes a good life doesn’t follow the usual rules of reliable behavior. As Reid puts it: “Big or small? Weak or strong? Vanilla or chocolate? Actually, I keep changing, and I’m all these things at the same time…”