In the last few years of my life there’s been a marked shift in my ways of thinking. Namely, I’m realizing there are a whole lot more shades of gray in this life than I used to think. (Ha! You thought this was going to be about the 50 Shades trilogy. Well, hang on a minute…I’ll get there.)
I remember being fresh out on my own, loaded with my ambition, tenacity and a whole string of preconceived dos and don’ts. Black and white. Up and down. It made life simple to navigate.
And then I started getting some life experience under my belt. The real kind, not just college. I juggled the joys of paying bills, working for tyrants and tap dancing through corporate politics.
And then I had kids. Wow, did that obliterate all of my preconceived notions! I caught myself doing things I’d swore I’d never do and NOT doing things I promised I would. Holding tight to my black and white belief system grew more difficult each day.
Finally, I started prying a few cold, stubborn fingers off the monkey bars of life and considered, “maybe there’s more than one answer to the predicaments I’m facing.” Or even scarier, “maybe I’m just wrong.” (Please don’t tell my husband that one. I’m still trying to convince him I’m always right.)
This sudden inkling to consider more than one point-of-view wasn’t because I’d been overcome with wisdom or bowled over with some magical revelation. I was just exhausted. Keeping all ten fingers squarely locked around the bar I dangled from was utterly impossible. It takes a freakish amount of energy to hold yourself and everyone around you to one, hardcore set of standards.
And then I started writing. Holy cow! That sure drove home how rigid I’d been and how accepting and gracious I could become!
So far, I’ve found two types of writers; Thumpers and Cuddlers. Thumpers say there are certain rules that absolutely shall not be broken. They adhere to a very black and white world and promote a rigid system for pretty much everything literary out there. Cuddlers give a polite nod to the rules, then purse their mouths in consideration when an idea pushes the envelope. They take deep, patient breaths and really pause to look/feel/touch whatever writing is in front of them. They politely state how the piece worked for them and then smile and say, “follow your gut.” In the simplest of terms (for me), It’s Scarlett versus Melanie. Neither of them is wrong and both have their virtues, but they sure have a different method of delivery.
One of my first exposures to Thumpers versus Cuddlers was with the 50 Shades Trilogy. My sister asked me to read it, so I downloaded the sample. At first, I couldn’t get into it. The writing style didn’t work for me. But then the characters grabbed me. Christian sucked me in hook, line and sinker. I read all three books. Twice. No, the writer’s voice wasn’t my favorite, but her characters and the story grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go.
There are absolutely some rules not to be broken, in both life and writing. I can think of ten I strive not to break. However, adopting a gray attitude lets me hold each topic/book up for individual inspection so I can ask myself how that specific event impacts my life. I can choose to politely say, “No thank you, but thanks for trying,” or “holy smokes, I wanna get me some of that!” Tomorrow I might turn around and do things completely the opposite.
The key is that I don’t have to agree with the person sitting on either side of me. I can set with my own shade of gray without insisting yours match with mine. I can smile at you and tell you I’m happy for the shade you’ve selected. The real beauty of life and writing, for me, lies in the gray.