September 30, 2013

Writing for oneself

Dear M,

I am quite sure all writers face this at one point in life - more so if they are authors. Our characters are fictional, it's true. But we would unconsciously introduce a trait that belongs to someone we know. More often than not, it is not noticeable, but once in a while it is very obvious and does not escape the notice of the person whom you've written about or the rest of your world. And you know how the world generally is - they will make it a point to let you know what they think about it.

I have such a character in a story. There was no such person in my original draft. When I had to rewrite it, I had to go back in time and introduce her so that at the right time, she could do what she had to. I wasn't thinking about anything else but her character when I was writing about her. After I developed her character, I was satisfied, very satisfied. But I failed to notice the glaring resemblance to someone I know. To be fair to myself, it is one tiny thing - everything else about her is totally different. There is no similarity anywhere. I completed writing and went back to stitching the changes together. It must have been a few days later that the similarity struck me in full force - this could really put me in trouble! Some day, someone is going to read this and say aloud, "Hey this character looks a lot like..." And they are going to laugh and their eyes are going to gleam because they know it would create such an undercurrent that could rise to a nasty tide. I know for a certainty that they will think I did that on purpose. And that's it - I am done for.

I went back and took a look at my character. They weren't alike, not at all - not in their behaviour, not in their actions, not in their intentions. But yes, the general dissimilarity was visible only to my eye, for the one factor they had in common was too huge to be missed. I admit I wavered a bit. A lot. I had to change that trait. It was far too obvious. Better be safe than sorry, I said to myself. But it had come up unconsciously. After writing so much with so much passion, how could I just remove it or modify my character to please someone? Granted, I prefer my peace of mind to my character's (im)perfection.

To change it or not to change it was the burning question. I thought I would introduce something else to achieve my purpose. However, believe it or not, nothing else I could come up with was as impressive as the original.

With a heavy (because of the impending doom) but bouncing (because of the strength of my will) heart, I decided not to change it and to face the retribution when it comes. For come it will, indirectly more than directly, stabbing, piercing, pinching, embarrassing, hurting, unfair and everything else.

But if I had changed it against my wish, I would probably have become less of a writer. If I write just to please or not to hurt someone else, if I write for others and not for myself, if I do not write what my heart tells me to write, I will never be able to convince myself that I am trying my best, doing my everything, working my head off. I will never be able to believe in myself.


Like this post on Facebook!

No comments :

Post a Comment