I had a mini-reunion with a few of my friends from elementary school yesterday. We found each other via the Internet, and after a lifetime apart, we met and had the best time reminiscing and getting to know each other for the people we've become; not just the memories we carry.
What's interesting to me is that the things they remember are different than the things I remember. Collectively, though, they help to shape a past more whole than the one I carry in my mind. Kids didn't have cameras or phones or video cameras back then, so what we have for the most part instead is the picture that's shaped in our minds.
My very first published book--How I Survived Being A Girl--was a fictionalized version of my growing years. It was my take, my memories, my fictionalizing. But if one of my classmates from sixth grade had written it instead, I'm sure the story would be completely different. And if every kid in my sixth grade class wrote their own "How I Survived..." we'd have thirty vastly different stories, even though we shared many of the same experiences.
That's really the whole premise of Flipped--two different perspectives on the same story. And I wrote it because I was turned down when I suggested writing "the companion volume" -- the boy's perspective--for HISBAG. Despite being turned down, the idea fascinated me and I decided to start all over with different characters and a different setting...and a different publisher.
When Flipped first came out, people commented that they'd thought that reading the same story from two different perspectives would be redundant and boring, and on the surface it seems that would be the case. It's fascinating, really, how un-boring it can be.
I guess, like real life with a little distance, there comes a point where we appreciate seeing a fuller picture. You've had the experiences, it's good to let other perspectives help you get the most out of them.