Friday, April 30, 2010

Authors Note: Who Holds Your Mirror?

Who holds your mirror?

Are perceptions reality? In Pages in the Wind, Emily is in her room getting ready for church, and an upcoming visit from her paternal grandmother:

Emily picked a sunny yellow dress out of her closet for church and in anticipation of her grandmother's visit. She brushed her blond curls, and put on her white socks with yellow tulip trim, and shiny patent leather shoes. She rushed into the living room and opened the closet, and grabbed a stool to reach the hatbox on the upper shelf. Picking a hat was ceremonious on Sundays, because as a Catholic she was expected to wear a hat to church. She made a fast pick, aware of the time, and put the straw hat on. She ran back to her room to look in the full length mirror on the back of her door. She was proud of her selection, the sunny yellow dress set off by a stiff petticoat, patent leather shoes, and a straw hat with tiny flowers. The hat framed her delicate face and big round blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and pretty smile. She hoped that her parents would be proud of the way she looked. As a final touch, she slipped on her lacy white gloves, and grabbed her hymnal in time for church. She smiled in the long mirror, proud of her appearance. Her prideful gaze in the mirror was interrupted by the loud and harsh sound of her father's voice.

"Emily, get the hell in here right now!"

She momentarily froze at the sound of her father's obviously angry voice. Aware of his command, she ran toward his voice in the direction of the living room. Her father waved his arms in her direction. She frantically accessed the situation, desperately trying to find the source of his rage.

"Did you leave the hatbox on the chair?" he shouted as he pointed in the direction of the hatbox.

Emily looked hopelessly at the hatbox, which she realized in her haste she had forgotten to put back in the closet. All she could utter was a mournful "yes."

Her father, enraged, grabbed Emily and shook her little body. "You are stupid! Can't you ever do anything right?"

I wonder, how does this encounter affect the image she saw in the mirror as she dressed for church? If Emily passes a mirror on that Sunday, what will she see? Will she even look? Would you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Torment and Imagination - a Gateway to Creativity or Madness?

In the story, Emily handles her torment and abuse by escaping into her imagination. Her life is fraught with difficulties and every day she has to navigate around an abusive and sadistic father. Her world is difficult to bear, so she creates a world that is woven in happiness and suits her kind nature. Emily spends a lot of time drawing and writing, and creating her own bearable world as a shield to the world she has to face whenever her father is around. Emily is, by nature, a sensitive person which compounds the impact that abuse has on her. It follows a natural transition that Emily's nature is in direct contrast to her father's abusive nature and would result in the use of her imagination to protect her from harm. This begs the question, if Emily lived in a happy environment with loving parents - would her imagination flourish? If adversity fuels the imagination and creativity - how far can it reach before it crosses over into madness?

In Pages in the Wind, there is a passage in the beginning of the book that illustrates how her imagination rescues her from the torment of her father:

"It was a typical sunny day and Emily got up early before the rest of the family, and quickly dressed and walked quietly to the front porch. This was a special time of day for her. The house was silent and the world was quiet. All she could hear were the thoughts within her own mind, uninterrupted by the terrifying shouting of her father. She would sit on the porch, her favorite place and the place where Reid would always wait for her. She would have a pencil and a tablet with her during these quiet times, for Emily loved to draw. She would always draw the same thing - faces of girls. She was talented at drawing and could capture an imaginary girl in her mind, draw her face as she imagined it, and fantasize an entire life around the picture. For hours she would sketch, not missing a detail of who this girl was. She would imagine what kind of life this girl lived, and the people that surrounded the imaginary girl's life. She would draw for hours, lost in her rapid and endless imagination, until her fantasy world was interrupted by the terrifying sound of her father's voice."

So - I wonder, where will this imagination lead? Surely Emily would rather live in her imaginary world as opposed to the wicked world imposed by her father. If the mind creates thoughts and perceptions - which world is real? Will her imagined world collide with her real world? What is the impact of prolonged trauma on the young mind?

What do you think?