In genre fiction circles, many authors and writing coaches ascribe to the idea that in the middle of the book the protagonist will come to what is called at “mirror moment.” Sometimes this is a scene where the character catches sight of themselves in an actual mirror, a store window, or somebody’s photo album–it’s a physical image held before the character’s eyes.
Other times, it’s the ghost of Mufasa reminding a disaffected adolescent Simba, “Remember who you are…” (after Simba sees his reflection on a moonlit pond.) The question posed is: Do I try to go back to the person I was 150 pages ago, coping, not exactly happy, but not taking on impossible quests, or do I grab my courage in one hand and my dreams in the other, and make a run toward the better person I have a once in a lifetime chance to become?
In romance, the mirror moment often comes after all hope is lost. There’s Tremaine St. Michael, riding into the sunset, when he hears somebody bad-mouthing the woman he loves. He and Lady Nita couldn’t find common marital ground, but Tremaine now knows that the almighty pound sterling has been allowed to define his life for too long. If he loves Nita, he’ll stick up for her and for the truth. He calls out the ne’er-do-well criticizing Nita’s healing gift, and starts on the path to the happily ever after that a more mercantile guy didn’t deserve.
The mirror moment for Tremaine was hearing a pair of shallow, insecure men casually talking smack about a decent woman whose medical expertise and courage saved lives. How shallow was Tremaine, to expect Nita to set aside her gift, for the privilege of giving him babies? He fretted that her medical activity would put his children at risk for contagion without acknowledging that simply bearing those children would put Nita at risk of death.
We have sympathy for Tremaine’s desire for safety–for him and for his children–but we respect him when he calls BS on Nita’s detractor, and later puts aside his pride to apologize for his narrow thinking. A smug, misogynistic jerk held up a mirror that started Tremaine rethinking his own values. (And then I gave him a nudge too!)
Last week, I asked how you protected the quiet, strong, loving place in your heart, and got some great answers. My question this week is, have you ever had a mirror moment, when you had to decide who you were? I’ve had several–choosing to become a single mom, leaving the corporate world for private practice, giving up on the lawyer job, firing agents, changing publishers… In each situation, I had to look at who I was and what I stood for. It’s a scary exercise, but I like that life has occasionally handed me a chance to take stock and reorganize my priorities accordingly.
The great day having arrived (A Lady’s Dream Come True hit the shelves on Tuesday), I will send signed copies to three commenters, anywhere in the world. So, have any mirror moments come your way? Who or what guided you through them?