December 9, 2013

When the Author feels like God

Dear M,

I have been thinking about the main characters in two of my stories and noticed a pattern. They were similar in a mild, distant way, as though they were first cousins who looked and behaved alike. As I pondered more, I figured out what it was - they were totally unlike me.

The characters that I have built are my opposites. In looks (as far as I could discern my own), in attitude, in behaviour. It was as though I was making them do things I would never be able to do. They were put in situations I had always dreamed of, and they reacted as I would never dare to.

(In a third story written in the first person, the narrator is very like me, so we don't have to worry about my characters being stereotyped as my opposite, etc. Let's not worry unnecessarily about the pattern.)

I did not do it consciously, but that is the outcome. It is very relieving - and, dare I say, cleansing? - to put them in situations where I have behaved like a fool, and make them do it right, and thus feel better. My characters slip where I was composed, they would be proud and unrelenting where I was begging on my knees for kindness, and so on. It was as though I raised them to cover up who I actually was, to hide the real me from the world. I would almost feel like God. I created people the way I liked, made them do things the way I liked, even when they messed up, I knew how to fix it. I knew when to fix things too, sometimes I would fix things up for them rightaway, sometimes I would make them wait for days or years. Yes, I had the power over my characters, the way I did not have over anyone else in the world, not even myself.


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