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Lessons Learned

Halloween is a fun time. Kids and adults alike get a free excuse to dress up and do some role playing. To the large man wearing the sparkly dress and handing out candy to my kids, you might be letting taking it a little too far. But for everyone else it seems to be okay.

It was cold and rainy for us this year. Oh wait, it’s been that way for the past five years, including the one where we lived in the high desert of southeastern Utah. The kids and adults had fun though, so that’s what matters. But there are other observations as well that the Halloween season brought to my attention.

Costumes. The costumes for women keep getting sexier and sexier. I’m not protesting this, just observing it. Men, on the other hand, aren’t offered sexy costumes. We have superheroes and monsters. Speaking as a man, that’s pretty cool. We want to be powerful so why not spend a night pretending we can save the world or at least scare the crap out of people? The thing is, unless we custom make something our costume choices are limited by what the manufacturers want us to have. It’s kind of like free will – we can want anything, but only among the options given to us.

So the next question is, since men want to dress up to be something they don’t feel they are normally (powerful, scary, or in a few frightening cases a large hairy woman that wears shiny skirts), does that mean women go for the sexy outfits because they don’t feel they can look attractive normally? Is it a cultural or societal statement that we are repressed and inhibited and can only share what we really want when given an excuse (and possibly alcohol)?

I think to some extent that’s true. I think a lot of us, men and women, are holding ourselves back. When the opportunity presents itself I encourage my wife to dress to the nines and go all out there, but she usually reigns it in so she will fit in and not upset anyone. Crazy, I know, but I watched some feathers get ruffled a few years back so I know it’s real and how uncomfortable it can be. I like to think I’m open minded enough to not care about such things, but then the image of the big guy wearing drag keeps popping back in my head and it makes me cringe. Where’s Tim Curry when you need him?

It’s topics like this that rattle around in my head and help me write more believable characters. The social dynamics we accept and roll with on a daily basis are amazing, especially when trying to implement them in a fictional setting. It’s daunting, to say the least! But it can be fun too, as it allows control freaks like me to show characters and situations with a twist towards how I feel things should be, or at least how a character that’s important to me can cope with situations like this.
And maybe, just maybe, I can exert a tiny bit of influence through my books that makes people think that they’d like to do something that empowers them, rather than hides them behind the grey blanket of conformity.

And speaking of books, my newest fantasy novel Child of Fate should be available very soon! I have the proofread copy in my hands, I just need to go through it and then go through the steps of making it available. I’ll be sure to post more, including links, as soon as its out there!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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