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Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh I Wish I Were...

No, not an Oscar Meyer Weiner. I wish I were (insert any of the following words):

*audacious

*confident
*courageous
*daring
*dashing
*dauntless
*defiant
*fearless
*foolhardy
*intrepid
*reckless

enough to write the story of my actual life. Because the characters who fill my days are so much MORE than any character I could ever come up with. They're all flawed and quirky and some of them are insane and some of them are too good to be true...but they are, and that's the kicker.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I go to work, and I see a wide variety of people from a wide variety of places. Most of them have a story to tell, and a few would make excellent chapters in a book.

As real people, they're constantly making choices, showing little facets of their personalities, revealing all those flaws and characteristics that make them into individuals. That is something that is so important to me in characters that I both read and write about. I don't want someone perfect, I want someone flawed. Human. Not ink on a page, but an actual personality in my head, readily available for reference any time their part of the story is up. Some authors miss that entirely, most do credibly well at giving us someone relate-able. And a certain few give us characters who are so perfectly believeable that we become friends, or enemies, or lovers, of any number of things with that character. We form a relationship of some sort that is strong enough to effect us in our daily lives, strong enough to make us a little sad to finish a book. We miss them for a while after that, and sometimes we rush back to them, and sometimes we wait years to open those pages again. Either way, those few characters are exactly right, and we meet as friends who haven't spoked in ages, but fall into the same patterns with little or no effort.

That is precisely what I want need for my characters. And lacking any formal training, or informal for that matter, and going on a purely instinctual level, I often have a tough time translating what I have in my head into written form on a page, without losing that integral core of what makes that character stand out in my head.

The funny thing is, I think I hold myself back more than any lack of schooling. I have a strange perfectionism that doesn't apply to all areas of my life, just some. But writing is one of them. And if I don't feel like what I've written is perfect, then I tend to get discouraged by it. I don't let it go entirely, I just take a while to psyche myself back up to re-read what I've written, and change what I can to fix it.

And half the time, when I've re-read it, I'm surprised by myself and what I've produced. I wonder to myself why I wasn't satisfied while I was writing, when I'm not only satisfied, I'm slightly mystified at my own abilities. It's a good feeling, but not a completely comfortable one, if you know what I mean. It's the same way I feel about adrenyline. Some people adore that feeling, some people avoid it at all costs. I feel slightly sick and yet still excited, two things that don't often go together. Like your first kiss. You felt scared and excited and nervous and exultant all at once...not a comfortable feeling, but not a bad one either.

But the people I see in my day-to-day life are already there. They're already written in stone, to a certain extent, and some things will never change about them. There's a lot less pressure, and a draw that feels almost like the urge to smoke a ciggarette when I really know I shouldn't. Writing about the people in my life would be easier, more entertaining, a much better story, and very guilt/fear inducing. Which is, of course, part of the draw.

Damn you contradictions!! I feel like I am constantly pulling against myself in one way or another...which is totally unrelated, and I apologize for that. Tangets tend to run away with me.

I'm not making any definite stands on writing about the people I know, because change happens every second whether we want it to or not. And sometimes the temptation is just to much to walk away from....

But for now at least, I'll keep my non-fiction story in my head, where it makes me alternately smile and cringe, and write dialogue in my thoughts while I'm on my break at work.

I'll leave you with a quote I like, and a fond farewell for now:


"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


3 comments:

Sweet Caroline said...

I can't believe I have missed this post. I have been doing so many different things--including finding a new tangible friend. I thought it would be fun to attempt a relationship without a computer screen.

Pros and Cons, of course. It is weird how I can find my attention drawn back to the friends I have on blogger. It seems like we open up and safely communicate what is on our minds and in our hearts.

Funny about your characters. The bizarre thing that I kept thinking of is: Although your characters are fiction, and you are God-like in creating them...could it be that you have designed their energy which actually becomes alive?(this is deep, so get ready) And they speak to you and help you create them? But, how can this be? When...they aren't real in the first place?

My kids are jumping all over me as I am trying to articulate this concept! But, maybe...maybe you will understand this clutter I am attempting!

Sweet Caroline said...

Oh, and I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner...cause my bologna has a first name. :)

Allison said...

I'm glad you've been enjoying life without a computer a little bit. After reading your post I decided you had the right idea, so I'm keeping my computer turned off during the day, and only using it while the kids are asleep. It's tough, but I feel better, like it's the "right" way. I know you understand my garbled mess. :)

And I understand your clutter completely! Here's my theory: My character's start off as "mine", but once I give them a certain set of values, thoughts, and attitudes, they take them and mold them into themselves. Once I give them free will, so to speak, I'm just a tool to get them where they're going. Make sense?