I like birthdays. They are unique celebrations of an individual. Every other holiday and anniversary we share with one or more people, but a birthday is often for one person alone. Twins – or family or friends who otherwise share the same birthday – have a slightly different perspective, but there is still a uniqueness to a birthday, encompassing specific wishes for good health and good fortune for a person.
I wrote for my birthday, as a kind of a gift to myself. While I didn’t write about an actual birthday, this time, tapping out that short story made me think about all of the birthday scenes and chapters I have written over the years. Turns out, there are quite a few:
- Peter, in 2007’s NaNoWriMo “Sixes and Sevens”
- Larry (and Sally, too), in the Doctor Who-Lite Songbirds series short story “Slave Girls and Shining Knights”
- Yousuke, in 1 More Chance! chapter 22, and Chie in chapter 25
- Rob, in the “Finding Mister Wright” series short story “Thirty-Nine”
- Ross, in chapter 19 of Fearless (a somewhat do-nothing chapter but which I’m loathe to lose all the same, for its lightheartedness among the rest of the story’s heavy emotional weight)
- and Hell, in the Borderlands short story “Whack”
Birthdays represent hope. Thinking back on it, all of those chapters and short stories were about life and the role hope plays within it, whether it’s hope for the future, hope to be a better person, or hope simply to share more days with the people we love. It’s a toss-up whether any of those stories actually worked the way they were conceived to do…but the joy of writing them gave me purpose, at least for a little while.
I hope good things for you, dear reader, today and every day, especially if you, too, are a writer looking for purpose. Because why wait for a birthday to share that?
Do you like writing birthdays in your stories? If so, do they tend to be happy events, or sad ones? What present did you give to yourself on your last birthday? Let’s all have cake!
I struggle a bit with birthdays – the very fact that they’re just for you means that if they’re not acknowledged then it’s very personal. I make that sounds like I’ve had some hard experiences around my birthday, but I haven’t actually, and yet it’s something I worry about for some reason. I don’t very often make a big thing out of my birthday, and I think that’s down to that particular anxiety – if it doesn’t work out then it would be a personal blow. Easier to not make something out of it, and then there’s nothing to fail. I worry about this thing more for other people than myself actually though, people I care about, I can’t bear to think that their birthday might leave them disappointed in some way. Gosh, I’ve no idea why I’m writing such a downer of a comment, that’s not like me is it! I clearly have more birthday anxiety issues than I’d realised! But in summary, I prefer the more “all in it together” celebrations like Christmas. I have actually written a whole screenplay based around birthdays, but haven’t done anything with it.
Oh, and happy birthday, I hope I haven’t ruined it for you!
Happy Birthday! Thank you for being born!
It never occurred to me that they could represent hope. That’s a pretty interesting angle to look at it from.
As for writing birthdays, I’ve written a few, but they’ve usually either been as a do-nothing, feel good type of scene, or a small indicator of relationships growing, if that makes sense. Lovers or friends or family come together to celebrate the individual, where they just have a good time and probably get to know each other a bit more.
Though, I would like to see if I could write a birthday scene where it’s not quite so warm.
I will say that, growing up, because my brother’s birthday is two weeks before mine, we used to combine our parties into one to celebrate the both of us. It was just easier on our parents that way, and on our guests, but now that we just do small gatherings, we celebrate the individual days.
Happy birthday again! Celebrate you because it’s your day!
I wrote about a character’s birthday close to my birthday. I tried to play with the idea that my character was not having a good day and that her boyfriend was only making things worse. It ended well, though l, as she was greeted to a surprise party.
Lately, my birthdays haven’t been cause for celebration. Don’t get me wrong. I like having birthday parties. But until I reach forty, there’s not much worth celebrating. Well, I guess the fact I made to another year is reason enough to celebrate, no matter how old I get. I wish I wasn’t always thinking about work.
I’d bet that screenplay is full of wit and charm, Vanessa, and hopefully you do something with it, someday. 🙂 This is a bit of a tangent, but did I ever tell you I recorded your Motley Goons story for my girls once upon a time, with (kind of) different voices for the characters and everything? They loved it. <3
We don't make a lot out of birthdays, either – no big displays or piles of presents – but when I come to them in my writing, it's a nice excuse to focus on one character and their happiness for a little while. In real life, though, I'd agree with you on the "all for one" holidays. Nothing beats sharing joy with other people, whether it's in the real world or on the page. 🙂
Thanks, spooney! Here’s a happy hug back to you, for being you. <3
Writing birthdays in a larger story gives me a chance to break the plot up a bit, but I agree that it would be interesting to use the event for some conflict. I've never tried that before, either, I don't think. Maybe we should both try it!
That’s a neat little twist to writing a birthday, George. I like the way that relationships come up again and again in your writing, because that’s what always resonates with me in stories: the connections between people.
What’s special about forty? Just because it’s a round number? I’ve always liked the 9 birthdays right before the rounds, personally…sort of like a last-ditch opportunity to goof off in the end of the decade. 🙂
I hope you get to take a break from work for a while and rest in some story settings, soon.
Thank you for the comments. Relationships are so important in life, especially the older you get. Relationships with friends. Relationships with family. I think we take relationships for granted when we’re younger. I know I did. It wasn’t something I thought about in high school and college. Now that I’m older, I wish I kept up with certain friends. And because older generations are passing on, I think it’s even more critical to make familial relationships matter, not get hung up on grudges.
Yay for birthdays! A day to celebrate clawing through another year and either having awesome times, or teachable ones.
I’ve written both happy and sad birthday scenes before, it really depends on where the character in question is when that day comes around. So far, in most every one I’ve ever done, it’s definitely been about the company they keep as well as the day itself. Rogues fly together, they party together, for example 🙂 And that’s always been the best part about the day for me as well. Good food, great friends and family and cheers to another year of growing!
Aw belated birthday hugs hun- did you have a nice day? x
Thanks, shade! Yes, there is something special about looking at a character on a day that’s all for them. When we can see ourselves in their friendships (and their conflicts), that’s the most fun, for me. 🙂
I had a great day – good food, good friends, happy family…and souffle! 😀
Hope you had a great birthday. I like birthdays. I take it as a me day. I do whatever I want that day. Look through old photo albums, read a book, watch movies, play with my dog. It’s my day. I don’t often write birthdays in my books. I did have a sad one for Oliver in Highway Thirteen to Manhattan though.
A sad birthday, eh? That sounds like a good hook for anyone still on the fence about Highway Thirteen! 🙂