Do we write what is in our souls, or by writing does it imprint itself on our souls?
As I have been writing "The Collapse" (which is actually based on a real placed and maybe based on certain aspects of my own life), I have found myself thinking in certain ways that previously I would not have contemplated: what would life be like if I lived life on the essentials? What would life be like if I lived away - truly away - from people? What is life like when you are largely alone? What would life be like under a government which, if not actively hostile, was at least passively so?
As I write (and then read), I begin to wonder where these thoughts are coming from: is it from myself? Or is the character I am creating making embedding these thoughts in my mind and making them a part of my thought patterns.
The future the character lives in seems in some very meaningful ways very different from the one I foresee for myself - yet on the other hand add in a couple of twists of fate and it is a very real future indeed.
Part of our lives is built on the idea (at least in the modern world) of predictability: that things will largely be as things have been and that the water will run, power will click on with a switch, and that my variety of apples will always be in the store. Up to 100 years ago that was no more true in the Western World than anywhere else; now, to present this to people (especially the young) is to present a world as unreal as Barsoom or the Hyborian Age.
It also presumes that our personal relationships will remain as they have ever been, and that those friendships and family relationships we have had over the years will continue to be the same. Practical experience of my own as well as readers of this site would tell you otherwise.
I do not fully know where the character in "The Collapse" ends up; no author ever really does. At some point characters and situations acquire a life of their own and the author becomes no more than a journalist recording events. But I do know that his thoughts and ideas are coming to influence my own.