Musings

When I first started writing, I thought the key to writing was learning techniques, daily word count, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, those are absolutely important—without those, first and final drafts would never manifest.  But I think the seed of literary greatness lies in willing to relinquish identity so you can hop from character to character.  Sounds cool, right?  But wait—it gets unpleasant.  Relinquishing identity means tossing aside those treasured beliefs that I’ve fostered throughout my entire life, and within my author’s mind, becoming someone whose pattern of thought and behavior is absolutely repugnant.  Otherwise, how would I fully commit to writing a villain?  How would I commit to writing someone weak?  How would I commit to writing a coward?  When I fully commit to writing, it means being honest and trusting enough to have compassion for every misguided character in my stories, and realizing they’re trying to do their best with the cards they’ve been dealt.  

(the reverse is also true; the best, truest heroes are the ones that are flawed).

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12 thoughts on “Musings

  1. “Relinquishing identity means tossing aside those treasured beliefs that I’ve fostered throughout my entire life, and within my author’s mind, becoming someone whose pattern of thought and behavior is absolutely repugnant. Otherwise, how would I fully commit to writing a villain?” This really hits home for me. One of my biggest struggles is letting go of all my humanity and all that “be a nice, good girl” crap, and just letting it rip. At least I hear the Dark Side has cookies. Hopefully with dark chocolate chunks in. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tricky one, do you as the writer take responsibility for the fictional crimes of your characters and can you sleep at night. You also have to accept the personae of multiple personalities – you can never be yourself.
    The idea of a writer becoming engrossed in their fictional character became apparent during one of my writing group meetings.
    I set the writing exercise based on the board game “Cluedo”, each writer assumed one of the game’s characters – Mrs White, Professor Plum etc.
    They had to account for their locations and actions and at the sametime grass up the other players.
    When it became clear from the deductions from each of the statements who the murderer was, without doubt – the lady in question had a good rant at me … it wasn’t in her nature to kill.
    For the sake of piece and in case civil war broke out – I had to conclude Dr Black died of natural causes.

    I think this illustrates your points about about the writer’s beliefs being contrary to the fictional character.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you and what an anecdote! I go with the evolutionary psychologist Jordan Peterson’s stance that the key to learning from history is that if not for a different set of circumstances and genes, we could have easily been that which we despise. Stanford prison experiments, Stalin’s reign, Hitler’s camps…I think it’s important to realize that we all have the dark side—indeed, it is useful sometimes for critique and imminent danger—and that to act with full potential means channeling this darkness rather than demonizing it. Because just like in the mirrored dots of the yin/yang symbol, order can come pouring forth from chaos and vice versa, leading to a pendulum swing of catastrophes from either end of the spectrum. I believe the most practical way to live is to surf the line between order and chaos, always trying to harmonize, always accounting for context. One severely limits their potential by putting themselves in a box, for in extreme or unexpected circumstances, the solution may very well be an extreme or unexpected one.

      Liked by 1 person

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