When I was a kid, we used to visit John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, Nevada. I don’t gamble, and I didn’t grow up with gamblers, but I did grow up right next door to Reno, Nevada and its plethora of casinos. We used to meet my grandparents for dinner at one of the Nugget’s many restaurants pretty regularly.
And…the Nugget had elephants. Bertha and Tina were elephants that probably performed in on-stage shows at the Nugget. I didn’t see any of the shows. Whenever we went to the Nugget, though, we would stop by the elephant enclosure to watch the elephants play, sleep, eat, and romp around. I was as invested in those elephants as kids today are in their video games. Not obsessed. Just invested. *wink, wink*
My elephant story has nothing to do with the actual blog topic, but every time I hear the phrase “the elephant in the room,” I think of those elephants, and I wanted to share my happy memory with you. ^_^
Now onto the actual blog topic. The elephant in the room – the thing that’s right there in front of us but that nobody really wants to talk about.
My husband was watching something on TV the other day, and he paused the show to point out to me how inauthentic the show was being…because the people weren’t wearing masks.
What a crazy thought! Right? Or, is it?
When we all first went into quarantine due to the coronavirus, some authors and I were chatting about whether or not the virus would impact Christian fiction. Would people start incorporating COVID-19 into their stories? At the time, we hoped this would be a short-lived issue and would fade quietly into the night. Consequently, nobody intended to incorporate any part of the pandemic into their fiction. Perfectly sensible.
Then the coronavirus dragged on. And on. And on. Here we are watching the number of cases and the death toll rise higher and higher. Society is changing around us, too. No matter where in the world you lay your pillow at night, you know about this virus. Whether you want it to be true or not, the virus has changed the way you do life on a daily basis.
Which leads me back to my husband and his problem with the fact that the people on TV weren’t wearing face masks.
What happens if people keep wearing face masks even after this virus no longer dominates the news cycle? What if some of these changes to our society and culture become permanent?
Do we start writing our romance stories with characters in face masks? Would you read stories where the characters are masked up?
As an author, I have to admit – the thought is daunting. How many times have I conveyed a character’s emotion by hinting at the corner of their mouth edging up? A lot! Or twitching. That’s a good one, too. The small smirk. The Cheshire grin. If everybody’s wearing a face mask, I lose one of my favorite tools. I won’t say it’s my most valuable tool, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. The mouth is how we see when somebody is entertained by something but doesn’t want to be entertained. The eyes don’t convey that as efficiently. Body language doesn’t show us that with the same kind of clarity. The mouth, though…it tells us so much about our characters.
So, yeah, as an author, the thought of losing my characters’ mouths makes me a little sad. (I know. That sentence sounds so weird. Hopefully nobody’s skipping down the entire blog post and stopping at just that one line.)
I’d really like to know, though, what you all think about the idea of face masks popping up in your fiction. Have you seen it yet? Do you want to? Or will it make you put the book back and not bother turning the page?
I admit, when I read fiction, I kind of want to escape to another time or place. I like a good piece of escapist fiction. At the same time, I want my fiction to be reasonably realistic. Which, as you can imagine, puts me in a bit of a quandary on this topic.
In any event – comment below and tell me what you think. One commenter will be randomly selected to receive a $5 Amazon gift card.