This week, Jennifer responds to YA author John Green’s video entitled “Perspective” from October 29. She explains how we create meaning in life, why we fear the magnificence within our own minds, and how this relates to writing.
A few weeks ago, The YA Publication Project covered how John Green introduces serious questions about life into young adult literature. In the same vein, John’s Vlogbrother’s video entitled “Perspective” describes how people can’t realize the full potential or meaning behind an experience until they have enough time to reflect on and analyze it. So, my response focuses on how we create meaning and why we fear the magnificence within our own minds.
In his video called “Perspective,” John reflects on his life 12 years ago. He says: “You can’t know what an experience will mean to future you until you are future you.”
Perspective isn’t just about acknowledging that time has passed between a past event and a future event, it’s that time allows a measurable transformation — our key to unlocking not only which experiences changed our lives, but how these experiences gained meaning in the first place.
I don’t personally believe greater meaning is preordained. I personally believe that people create meaning, often times unconsciously. When this happens, you can’t apprehend which experiences will benefit you or be of interest to you in the future. We don’t recognize their greater meaning until we measure the distance we’ve come. Otherwise, a lot hasn’t changed yet — we’re too close to the experience.
And we don’t always have to reflect and analyze an experience to know that it is meaningful. Sometimes, we immediately know the meaning in certain events. Other times, perspective uncovers an explanation for who we are today. And still other times, we may never realize the impact an experience has on us. This reminds me just how powerful and mysterious the unconscious mind is. Something can still have meaning and value without it being valued or noticed by anyone.
So, once upon a time, I wrote: “We love and fear the magnificence within our own minds.” I think the craziest part of all, is that our own brains internalize an experience and create meaning. We are constantly rebuilding our potential and realizing the potential in other people, in order to find a purpose and make sense of the world. It is a great and complicated process, but an important one if we are willing to better understand ourselves.
And how does all of this relate to writing? Scenes reveal their meaning in the same three ways. 1) You may know ahead of time, or right after writing it, that this experience is significant to the book. 2) You may write a scene, not like it, throw it away, and then later realize that it actually inspires your characters. 3) And scenes you never end up using are not wasted. Although they get booted into the trashcan (or the unconscious) forever, writing always works as practice. A lot of great writers read a lot, but they also practice writing a lot.
So, John, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to look further into why I do the things that I do, and I look forward to responding to more inspiring videos. Take care, I’ll see you guys next week.
Watch “Perception” here.
New episodes are periodically posted on Mondays.