In preparation for the bewitching day, I started thinking about how easy it is to see people’s masks on Halloween. Not only are the disguises obvious, but they’re expected, even anticipated. But during our regular days without the theatrical benefit of Halloween, it is more difficult to discern the genuine from the hidden agendas; the masks people wear that are often invisible and appear to be real. Some, have multiple guises, a face for work, one for home, a public and private mix of masks that help them manage both life roles. Other’s use masks for protection for themselves or in order to shelter loved ones; and some people have set up their lives where they need to use masks to get what they want. Regardless, masks aren’t just something we wear once a year on Halloween, they are, in fact, a part of our day to day life too. If I’m honest these kind of masks have surprised me more than any Halloween disguise. I say surprised because there was a time that masks disappointed me, and on occasion, really hurt my feelings. But my older, growing wiser self sees everyday masks as opportunities, and intrigue, and if I watch closely, and study the motivation behind the mask, I find an infinite source of book fodder.
Aren’t some of the most intriguing characters in stories, the ones who we thought were one way, but by reading their backstory, we realize they aren’t at all what we expected? And after understanding why they wear their masks—for good reasons, and less noble ones—don’t we move past our initial assessment, into understanding, and arrive in a mindset filled with compassion? Sure the masks still exist, but instead of being effected by their deceptions, in stories, we are compelled to study, understand, and except them.
Knowing that masks are real and part of every day life, what if we switched our perspective from the take-it-personal setting, and tuned our mind’s eye to observer mode, in the same way we approach characters in stories? Then, like on Halloween, would we be wide-eyed, looking for, and anticipating these less obvious masks? With our emotions at arm’s-length could we gain understanding in the way we engage our heroes and enemies in books?
For any writers out there who are feeling stuck, studying masks is another way to unlock the mother-load of creative flow.
E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Coming soon: The Surge
Channeling the wisdom of the Halloween Spirits
aka The Glamorous Wife