Every man's memory is his private literature. ~Aldous Huxley
I'm submerged in memories today. When writing, I must rely on memories to get at real emotion. Joy, shock, love, rage, hurt, pain. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Many years ago, I decided to create what I call Memory Mountain. Each side of the mountain is built-up with good memories on one side, and the bad on the other. Every time I have a flashback that stirs me, I put it on the mountain. If my mountain starts looking more like a cliff, it's time for me to push myself to build up the other side. I share this with you because I think it is a great tool for everyone, especially if we find ourselves having little pity parties. It works equally well when our bubbles get too big.
My characters must have memories in order to live. It's my job, before writing 'Once upon a time', to climb their Memory Mountain. Stamina and fallibility coexist, as do perfection and flaws, goodness and evil. We are humans, and my characters are humans, too. They are multi-dimensional. Think about the Tooth Fairy [played by Ralph Fiennes] in the movie Red Dragon. [Adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris] He's an insane and ruthless killer, and yet he takes the blind Reba [Emily Watson] to 'see' the sedated tiger. We are plucked from his evil world and into the poignant moment as Reba strokes the tiger's lush coat, touches his cold, moist nose, and feels the power of his rib cage.
What does your Memory Mountain look like? Is it a cliff or a rolling hillside? Maybe it's in 3-D, with several layers of peaks, valleys, and plateaus.