Monday, April 1, 2013

Nature vs Nurture.

Hope everyone got a great long weekend to enjoy, celebrate (Easter, Passover, or simply the joy to be alive), and get a head start on your spring cleaning... which I did not. Clean, I mean. I mostly enjoyed the family and talked to friends. It was a breath of fresh air.

For my awesome friends at IWSG, it's April's time for a meeting and I hope you find yourselves welcoming a yet cold but still here spring. This time I'm taking a different approach to the meeting and instead of focusing on my insecurities, I want to share with you something a friend asked me over the past weekend.

She recently read my book, PERPETUAL NIGHT, and asked me about the protagonist, Lilibeth Royster. She wanted to know why I chose Lilibeth to be a teenager and if the story was really at its core about the age-old debate of Nature vs Nurture. Since this isn't the first time that a reader makes the conclusion that the story pitches in on the argument, I thought it'd be an interesting post to share.

Childhood is the period of time when our parents teach us everything we must know. When the building blocks are cemented in a firm foundation that'll carry our future. If we grow good or bad, at this point, depends on them. And here is where the Nurture vs Nature debate starts. 

I don't believe that one person is born evil or bad, in that sense I'm with the nurture side of the argument, but it is impossible to deny that there are genetics involved in most every psychological aspect of our personality. The depressive personality, the overachiever, the shy, the sociopath... genetics can't be set aside. But not every psychopath grows to be a killer. Not every shy person will be insecure. Where does the difference reside between your manipulating ex-boyfriend and Ted Bundy? Our environment, I think, makes a huge difference in what we do with the cards we were dealt.

For me, the trickiest part of growing up is surviving our adolescence. I made Lilibeth a teenager because that's the period of time when we become responsible of our own lives. Even with the best foundations and the best materials, a building can fail if badly built. In PERPETUAL NIGHT, Lilibeth is confronted with a world that treats her like a child, that is condescending and unforgiven. Gone are the years of fairies that'll give her money for her teeth. Santa is not real and Lilibeth, like every other teen, must accept that real life sucks and then move on.

Teens are neither kids nor adults, they feel isolated because they are. They don't know where the self begins and the parent ends.They are searching for themselves. They lash at a society that has no place for them. They oppose their parents because they need to assert themselves as individuals. 

I tell you, being a teen sucks. Then, at the risk of looking like a cruel god, what if the teen is put under extraneous circumstances? Can they be trusted to make the best decision? That's a question over which every parents looses sleep and that's where I put Lilibeth. I surrounded her with night terrors, visions, and the shadow of mental disease in the family. And a bad breakup, of course, since 90% of the worst decisions I ever took were made under the influence of a bad breakup.

So there you go, in my mind PERPETUAL NIGHT isn't a story about Nature vs Nurture. Lilibeth's neither a sociopath nor a psychopath. It is an analysis of ourselves, the 'normal' people. We all have within us a dash of egocentrism, a sense of entitlement, and can experience genuine moral conflict. And still none of us are free of making bad decisions that'll change the course of our lives. We are just lucky that our worst didn't impact our future. We are lucky to have survived our teens.

Share with me, were your teen years too hard? And where do you stand, nature, or nurture?

For more info on the book or to read an excerpt, go to Perpetual Night, ebook and don't forget to 'Look Inside'.


Julie Luek said...

Nurture and nature probably intersect in our lives and luck plays a big part in our choices. My teen years were awkward and there was a bit of the nurture/nature dysfunction to overcome, but so far, no psychotic breaks or malfunctioning decisions. Here's to another step forward in health and luck!

Georgina Morales said...

Yay we! Every night when I go to bed with just one personality in me and without having killed someone, I count as a good one. ;) Thanks for stopping by, Julie.

noonebutabloghead said...

Sounds interesting. I'd agree that our teens are when we assert our individuality, sounds a good setting for this kind of story.

Karen Walker said...

Sounds like a very powerful story. Good for you.

Rachna Chhabria said...

My teen years were easy. I agree with your thought "I made Lilibeth a teenager because that's the period of time when we become responsible of our own lives."

Visiting from the IWSG.

Ingrid Engen said...

This is a tough topic. It's called an "age-old debate" for a reason. I think both nature and nurture have significant impacts on us, but it's hard to say which has more.

I don't want to say that my teen years were tough, because compared to some, I'm sure they were a walk in the park. Let's just say that there are moments I'd rather forget or wish didn't happen. ;-) But I think our teen years and our twenties are the years where we learn the most about ourselves and truly establish who we are as individuals. And I think that's one of the reasons that even adults enjoy reading books about teens.

Your novel sounds interesting, and I wish you luck with it.

Visiting from IWSG

Georgina Morales said...

Thanks for all of your great comments. This is such an interesting idea and I love to hear about your own experiences. Thanks for sharing!

drea moore said...

I think that we are a product of both, but I also see "nurture" as encompassing more than the family unit. My teen years were the only real stable years of my life. I was very aware of this fact as a teen and made no attempt to upset my home life and saved all my rebellion for procrastinating on schoolwork I considered a waste of time. :)

Laura Eno said...

Awesome premise for your book!
Before I had children, I was firmly in the Camp Nurture group. After wrestling with divergent personalities, I was forced to admit Camp Nature had many good points! :)

Laura Eno – A Shift in Dimensions

Lynn Proctor said...

great idea--always a subject with a lot to be said either way!

Elise Fallson said...

Yes, being a teen sucks. I hated every single second. Anyway, I agree with you on the nurture vs nature. I don't believe we are born 'good' or 'evil' but some people may be predisposed to certain behavioral traits that if not neutered properly in their childhood, could have a negative impact and severe consequences as they get older. It was nice getting an insight into your book. It sounds really interesting and I'll be sure to add it to my tbr list. (:

Lexa Cain said...

I loved this post - so interesting and well written. I agree it's a combination of nature and nurture. I loved these lines the best: " Gone are the years of fairies that'll give her money for her teeth. Santa is not real and Lilibeth, like every other teen, must accept that real life sucks and then move on."
So true. :-)

Michael Pierce said...

I love writing and reading about teens because the stories are so full of drama since good decisions are rarely made. But the good stories have them learning from their mistakes or lack of experience as they progress. Great people and characters are usually molded by many different things, some of which remain unknown and unseen, making them unpredictable.