Spotlight Stage Right
Every story has its main characters, those interesting people that you’re either rooting for or against. It’s because of them that the narrative exists, at all. The writer has spent a vast amount of time creating their histories, appearances, and an outline for their future that the author hopes they don’t usurp too much. The story begins and from page one, they are center stage ready to shine even when they are struggling.
However, every once in awhile a secondary character steals the show, and for a time, all eyes are on them. This just happened in my writing of Surrender. The story belongs to Virginia Hart. However, in this scene, her best friend, Jacklyn, steals the limelight and goes home with the guy. Actually, she goes home with three guys, but you’ll have to buy the book when it comes out next year to find out why.
Virginia was happy to step out of the spotlight for awhile, and you should be, as well. (Yes, she told me so. Writers talk to their Characters.) You’ve written the script for your life and while it’s your story, be willing to allow others to have their shining moments. Life is not just about you, but about everyone around you. Parents may understand this better than anyone and grandparents even better yet. Parents are almost always working behind the scenes and in the background so that their children will get the spotlight. Spouses do this for each other all the time. The old adage, “Behind every great man is a greater woman,” shows how one person steps behind the light and allows the other to bask in the public glow. Their stories are intertwined, yet one pushes the other to the forefront. Hopefully, each of them takes turns being the star performer, because everyone needs their moment.
Don’t be afraid to see others succeed, especially a family member. Ultimately, their success is yours. However, even if it’s a coworker, a fellow student, or worse yet, an enemy, don’t be afraid to allow them their own moments of glory. We should all take joy when others succeed just as we want them to delight in our accomplishments. To celebrate other’s failures and belittle their achievements only reveals a character flaw in ourselves that should not make us proud. Being able to enjoy another’s success, however, reveals a great strength of character and confidence in oneself.
Now, go a step further. Don’t just celebrate when they are in the spotlight; turn the light upon them yourself. Help them achieve success. As I said a few weeks ago, the girls are great at this. Not only are they my biggest promoters and editors, they’re also always busy with sketches, working on my sites and book covers, assisting me with my writing schedule and talking over future ideas while critiquing current ones. They keep me well stocked with coffee, cigars, and pens. Even though the byline is mine, the effort and reward belongs to all of us.
It works in reverse, as well. As each one of them strives for what they want, when it’s their time to shine, I have no qualm standing in the wings applauding. I don’t mind building the set, either. I get fulfillment from seeing them succeed just as much as when I achieve my goals - more so, really. I would much rather say, “That’s my girl,” than, “Look at me.” I would rather talk about them or the kids than myself. I find it sad when a person, especially a parent, would rather talk about their life than ask the other person about theirs.
When I received a call from Nathaniel while he was at college all I wanted to hear about was how his classes were doing, how the show was coming along and how he was getting along with his dorm mates. Then it was “How can I help,” which of course, was followed with requests for money, food and a trip home. I’ve watched the girls get on the phone with one of the children and all I hear is “Really, and what else is going on? That’s great!”
Your story will not be diminished by another’s success. Quite often it can be enhanced and turned into a stronger story, as with the girls and I. Be willing to share the spotlight once in awhile and I promise that when it shines down on you, it will seem all the brighter. There is enough success for everyone, I don’t care what the naysayers mumble. Don’t be afraid to share. Besides, my mom says sharing is good for you. At least, that’s what she told me whenever my sister wanted one of my toys.
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