Way back in October, I was a guest on Annette Rochelle Aben’s podcast called ‘Tell Me a Story‘. During the fun and festivities, it was pointed out that I talk about my characters as if they can walk into a room any minute. This got me thinking about me as an author. I can’t say this category falls into my process because it isn’t something that always leads to writing. All I can say is that this is me and always has been.
Explaining this is the hardest part because I always get people who jump in to interrupt for one reason or another. Some try to logic it to the point where it doesn’t feel special and others try to turn the conversation to their own voices. It kind of irks me because I really haven’t met anyone who fully captures what goes on in my head. Then again, I can’t say that I can find the correct words to bring the proper life to the idea. Saying that I have long conversations with my characters in my head, that I imagine being them, or they act up during writing isn’t unique. All authors get that. Yet, I feel that there is more to that like these beings are living in my mind and keep poking their head into my space to see if I need anything. Every now and again, they’re a physical presence on my senses or an influence on my behavior. Almost like there’s a symbiosis where I give them life and they give me comfort or strength?
This post isn’t going well at all because I can’t fully explain how I feel. Part of it could stem from me being rather solitary when I was younger. I had friends that I hung out with, but I spent a lot of time sitting in my room with my characters. During the years that I was working non-writing jobs, I’d take every opportunity to outline or jot down ideas. This might have caused me to maintain some connection to my imagination, which created an open channel to that part of my mind. Still, it doesn’t really explain why I default to talking about Luke Callindor like he’s my trouble-making friend instead of a character in my stories. Could it be that I’ve given him so many facets that he pretty much is alive to me? Is it possible for an author to dream something up in such personal detail that they create a ‘ghost’ that haunts them to some extent?
Another reason for me wondering about this is because of my recent stress and life upheaval. I’ve tried to talk about this before and got a lot of well wishes and support in that I’ll be back to writing. Yet, one key point keeps getting missed. I don’t really hear the voices like I used to. It isn’t like a wall has come up because I can’t even sense that they are still in my head. I’ve poked around to find specters and shadows, but it’s become rare that they turn up. (Writing this in November, so maybe this will change by the time it goes live, but work with me.) Cassidy and Lloyd became more vivid when I was editing Derailing Bedlam, but there was a sense that I was reading something written by someone else. They would fade away almost as soon as I stopped instead of sticking around for an hour to chat. It was like an automatic off switch that I never had before because I never feared having an imagination running wild until I needed it to become a honed tool.
Part of me fears that by packing away the notebooks, announcing a semi-retirement, and putting a stake in what little momentum I had has been perceived as betrayal. My characters were always comfort zones, but some people have pointed at them as the causes of my life being ‘bad’. Perhaps they’ve gone away out of guilt for causing me trouble even though they really didn’t do anything wrong. It doesn’t help that very few people around this side of the computer really try to understand how I work. Everyone thinks I can just turn the author side back on whenever I want or that I can hang out with my characters regardless of my mood. Honestly, I’m getting really worn down trying to explain myself to people who don’t seem interested in understanding. Unlike the voices in my head, they don’t really like what I am and work to make sure I never think I’m special or talented like I was beginning to feel a few years back. Eh, this is getting off topic, but this is another reasons my internal friends might be silent.
I’m just going to open the floor with a few questions. Do other authors talk about their characters like they’re physical beings? What do you do when those close to you seem to minimize your identity as an author? Have you ever had a time where the voices disappeared and you feared that they would never return?