We Do Not See Things as They Are. We See Things as WE Are.

By Lynn Crandall, author of Dancing with Detective Danger and Always and Forever Love (coming from Crimson Romance December 16th, 2013)

Dancing with Detective DangerWe do not see things as they are. We see things as we are. ~ Anais Niin

The concept presented in the quote from Anais Niin is something I have encountered many times as a writer. It’s another way of saying perspective is everything, and in interviewing expert sources for various articles I’ve written, the influence of perspective is so apparent. For example, even though I always record an interview, it isn’t uncommon for the source to later dispute what he or she had said. Reading the words I have recorded them saying makes them uncomfortable. They don’t remember them as they said them; they remember them through their personal filter, their individual perspective.

Perspective is an amazing thing to explore in fiction and is a fundamental element in my books Dancing with Detective Danger and Always and Forever Love, my December 16 release. It is the flaws in personal perspective that keep main characters and sisters Sterling Aegar and Lacey Aegar imprisoned in their particular pain.

In Dancing with Detective Danger, Sterling is living a life based on avoiding pain. After suffering the loss of her parents and the death of her sister’s husband, Sterling perceives that life is harsh, and being vulnerable and open to love would bring more pain than she could bear. Based on this personal perception of how things are, she has walked away from lover Ben Kirby and determined never to let him close again. In this excerpt, Sterling is feeling the pressure of maintaining her way of seeing things in the face of another truth, she loves him.

His eyes met hers, heat spilling out of them. “I just want you to be happy, and I think you sold out on yourself. Living used to be a thrill for us. We challenged it. Now you’ve tried to wall up in some kind of a cocoon where you feel a degree of control over your life. You don’t have to deal with complicated things like feelings.” Ben lifted his coffee cup to his lips, never taking his eyes off her.

“Look, life is full of trade-offs.”Sterling squirmed in her seat. “You can’t tell me you haven’t made any. You’ve made some changes. You traded undercover work for investigations.”

Ben leaned back in his chair, contemplating. “Some trade-offs are prudent, but some are just nuts.

“You make it sound so simple. Sometimes the choice is merely the lesser of two evils.” She knew exactly what he was talking about, and it bothered her. A lot.

His brow furrowed. “I didn’t realize you considered me evil.”

“You? Never.” Sterling picked at the remains of her dinner, avoiding his eyes. Now it was clear to her why they came at each other with fists—it made a safe boundary. Allowing emotional intimacy was acutely painful. “You are a self-indulgent, wild-hearted pest.”

Ben let loose an indiscernible scoff. “Please, don’t mince words. Tell me how you really feel.”
Without raising her gaze, she continued, her hands fisted on the table. “And you’re the most interesting, exciting, and gentle man I’ve ever known.” Finally, she met his look. Ben lifted an eyebrow in surprise, but she went on. “But I can’t be with you. It would be more than I could stand to get accustomed to spending all of my days and nights with you and then have to face that day.”

Leaning in, he put his hand on hers. “What day, Sterling?”

His voice sounded so gentle and warm—how could she make him understand? “The day I get the call informing me of your death,” she finished, nearly leaping from her chair. She couldn’t stand the feelings threatening to tear her apart.

Though Sterling’s way of seeing things is different, in Always and Forever Love, Lacey is as deeply invested in her particular perspective. Living life without her husband—her “always and forever love,” Nicholas—has been something she has endured with a perky and determined outlook on life. But in Dancing with Detective Danger, times got really tough and her need for him drew Nicholas’s embodied spirit to her. Now, two years later, she is clinging to her life with him as though it is the only way to survive. She frames life from a perspective that life without him is unthinkable. She rejects a new life that offers possibilities for a new love with Jackson Carter. When Nicholas lovingly nudges her into a fuller life without him, she feels all her coping mechanisms intensify, as in this excerpt in which he tries to convince her that while their son is at summer camp she should try going out without him.

She smiled, briefly, just before his lips touched hers and she felt the familiar warmth of his love flow through her. When he pulled back a bit, her eyes drew up to his, knowing the strength she would draw from them. “I do miss him, though.”

“Of course. He’s missable,” Nicholas teased. “All the more reason for you to utilize your time while he’s away to broaden your world.”

The words tightened around her like a shirt that was too small. She had to move, get air. “Don’t start again,” she said, rising abruptly and marching to the kitchen. She pulled carrots from the refrigerator and attacked them with a vegetable brush, then the peeler.

Moments later she felt his hand on her shoulder and his face nuzzling her neck. She wilted against him.

“I’m not going to stop urging you to expand the circle of your life, Lacey. You deserve more than what I can give you.” His voice was soft in her ear.

She turned and leaned against the counter. “I’m not in need of anything more. Why can’t you let me have what I want? Just you. That’s all I want.”

Nicholas only suggests she open to see new possibilities, but that mere suggestion exerts intense pressure on the way she presently sees things. Lacey has to either dig deeper into her need for the status quo or allow for a new way of being okay.

As a reader and a writer I enjoy a story about a hero and heroine who acknowledge that their way of living is not truly working and they find that when they allow a new perspective to live in them, new worlds open.

Dancing with Detective Danger and Always and Forever Love are romantic suspenses. What do you enjoy most, the tension of danger or the drama of emotional issues?

8 thoughts on “We Do Not See Things as They Are. We See Things as WE Are.

  1. Deborah O'Neill Cordes

    Lovely article, Lynn. It’s true; we all look at the world through our own personal filters. Your excerpts were well done, and I liked the tension you created for your characters. As for your question, I think “tension” is the key word here, and I love reading and writing about the “tension of danger.” Best wishes and much continued success!

  2. renakoontz

    Isn’t this also a reflection of our emotional state at the time? When I’m angry with my husband, the grass is always greener. On most days, I realize my grass is pretty green. I’m looking forward to Lacey’s emotional dilemma and how she overcomes. Nice post, Lynn. — Rena K

  3. Brenna Chase

    Great post, Lynn. I think that’s basically true. We see things through our own filters. Good advice to keep in mind when trying to come up with conflict.

  4. Becky Lower

    Nice post, Lynn. Seeing things through different perspectives is one of the most challenging parts of being a writer. I find myself stopping all the time when I’m writing from a male POV and asking myself, “Is this really the way my brother would phrase this?”