My African backstory

Have you ever wondered where you came from?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately, thinking about exactly that. Obsessing, you might say, about an Anglo-Saxon, Germanic past, which accounts for my genetic make-up, and the place where I originated from – the southern tip of Africa.

So what do you think plays the biggest part in who you are?

Would it be genetics or circumstance?

Some might say, if my ancestors hadn’t travelled from Europe to settle in South Africa, I would be a completely different person today.

Not in the physical sense, of course. I would still be as affected by the sun as much as I am now, with freckles and all.

Or would I?

Others believe that you are what you are and there’s no point in thinking about anything else, as it was never going to be.

Realists must have their place too, I guess.

But whichever way you look at it, there’s no question that circumstances play a big part in the person you are today.

I can be anywhere in the world, but as soon as I hear Miriam Makeba sing of the sun drenched continent I call my own, I’m home.

And the same is true of a fictional character and how her circumstances shape her backstory. I too have tried to save time by neglecting to create a character’s backstory, properly.

But I soon realised that unless I wanted a one-dimensional character that dropped from the sky with no memory, no motivation and with goals that stem from nothing but the author’s say-so, I’d better spend some time on the boring bits.

It’s not all about the here and now.

I also realised that the sum of the boring bits makes for something interesting at the end of the day.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Realists must have their place too.

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