Have you noticed that people ask "where were you when X?" Elvis died. The Royal Wedding occurred. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And when we start to tell a story, we give what we were doing at the moment. It happened today when the earthquake hit in Virginia and much of the East coast felt the shock from it. We all needed to turn and share our own story of what we were doing/feeling at that exact moment. Even though many people are experiencing it - we only know how it affected us at that time. Stop and think about 9/11 and while you'll envision images we've seen of that horrible day, you'll also think about what exactly you were doing at that precise time. (I was on a train heading towards Hoboken, NJ.)
The idea of our perspectives came crashing into my mind from how flooded twitter and facebook became today after the earthquake. And the next thing I thought about was how writers have to do this with their characters all the time. Perspective is so important to the thrust of a story...which person we are choosing to tell a particular point of the story arc. What does that character see in the situation? How does it make them feel? Are their feelings different from the other characters or society in general? These are important aspects to think about because just like life - the way a character feels about a situation or perceives it tells us so much about that person.
That's my writing "ah-ha" moment for today...now back to reading my twitter feed to see how those I follow are giving their unique spin on the earthquake aftermath.