Monday, November 12, 2012

They're All a Little Piece of Us

I've been taking my own advice at last and writing first, blogging later. Nanowrimo has given me an excuse to put my writing at the forefront for a month, which is bliss! I mean, the day job, the family, basic chores and errands are still all there. I still attend every soccer game and make dinner and wash clothes and all that.

But as soon as I'm done... out comes the laptop.

The words are pouring out like espresso drinks at Starbucks. Sometimes dark and intense, sometimes frothy and sweet. It has been years since writing felt this way.

But... it's got me thinking. The crux of all good writing for me is the characters that live and breathe and emote through my fingers onto the page. I used to think that they just sprang from my subconcious fully formed, but as I write more I realize that they are all, in some way, a little piece of me. My fantasy herione is the dutiful, insecure young woman I was when I first left home. Her ranger captain love interest is the cool, calm, capable, disciplined male person I longed to be for many years.

Yes, people, I always wanted to be a boy when I was young. Boys were fast and strong and tough and cool. I was awkward, clumsy, always sick and pretty much useless for anything but schoolwork. How I idolized the neighborhood boys. I wasn't in love with them. I just wanted to BE them.

My current heroine, Ginger, is in many ways my alter ego, though I didn't realize it at first. Smart but loveless, eager to prove herself but wary of failure, and wounded from the past but optimistic enough to believe in a rainbow waiting just around the corner. I could write her forever and feel like I have been, in numerous scenarios. Finally, I think I found her home and she's just popping off the page.

Even the villains are a little piece of me: the piece that secretly wants to control and manipulate so I won't have to be afraid any more. They also incorporate a lot of the people who have hurt me through my life or whom I've watched hurt others: The bitter, selfish neglecters, the master manipulators, and the ones so afraid of rejection that they hurt everyone near them.

None of my villains are cold, distant super-villains like Loki or Saruman or Gorden Gecko. They are intensely, gut-wrenchingly personal.

What about you? How do you see pieces of yourself in your characters?


  1. I thing you're definitely on to something. There are certain character types I don't write, and I suspect it's because they're too far afield from me.

    And your villains sound great. I find the ones with something to prove, that have a desire other than power (for respect instead for instance) to be much more interesting to read.

  2. I totally, agree, Laurel, about something other than a desire for power. Everyone wants to rule the world. Or destroy New York City, at least in the movies.

    That's the running joke in our house. "Oh look, they're going to destroy New York again!"

    But on the flip side, the need for power is such a cliche' that when I run across it in real life I'm shocked. Like really, this jerk just wants to control everything? No other motivation? Just because (s)he can?

    And my husband is like, "Yeah, really. You are so naive!"

  3. I think we all put a piece of ourselves into our characters. I would have liked to have been more athletic. But if wishes were fishes the sea would be full. I guess that's why I write. I live vicariously through people that aren't real.

  4. I hear you, Michael. I wish I was tall, thin and athletic, so my current heroine is. But I think it's also fun to use an Everyman or -woman and make them the star.


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