|Photo by Thinkstock|
A character in a novel needs a few flaws or they aren't very realistic.
So I mock one up. Give them a face. Maybe a couple of arms. Legs. A bit of hair. Perhaps a beard. Then I sit them down on a chaise longue and I ask them: What is wrong with you?
Are you too bossy? Do you have a phobia? Do you eat with your mouth open? Do you have a messed up relationship with a relative? Do you steal from the pic n' mix counter at the cinema? Don't tell me you talk at the cinema because I'll have to kill you off before your debut... Are you unreliable? Jealous? Do you wish you were someone else?
Of course, if writing guidebooks are anything to go by, there's only one question worth asking: WHAT IS IN YOUR POCKET?
Nope? You've never done that little exercise?
I don't know what's in my own pocket let alone theirs. Fluff probably. And a hair band. Very telling. Yes, I have long hair! Now you know everything there is to know about me.
It's ironic that while I'm inventing flaws for my fictional characters, I'm wishing I could erase them entirely from my own character. I ignore the fact that if I didn't have any flaws, I wouldn't be realistic. Perhaps I wouldn't be real even. I would vanish from the face of the earth and THE GREAT WRITER would appear with one of those pencils with the little pink rubber at the end, the rubber visibly used, and say, 'Sorry, I had to edit you out, you weren't very believable'.
Last Saturday was a boozy affair where everything was just wonderful, until it wasn't. I don't know. I got excited. Lost my will power in the garden somewhere. Maybe it fell through the grill along with a barbequed sausage. The result was, I woke up with a hangover, and was overcome with self-loathing. I couldn't understand how it had happened. How come my character, who had been through so much, could still act like she was a teenager? Hadn't she learnt ANYTHING?
It's frustrating being a human being sometimes...
And repetitive too as the same old thoughts kick in: How I'm never going to drink ever again in my life. Or at least a month. A couple of weeks? Okay, I'll give up drinking forever but I might have to take up something else instead. Then again smoking has got to be worse than drinking, hasn't it? No I know, I'll never go out. If I don't go out I won't be tempted. I'll be a hermit. Yes, I'll be a hermit. But then my husband might get bored of me and leave me. Oh, but he probably should because I'm an idiot anyway... Why don't I ever remember to drink water? Never. Again. I'm going to start my whole life over. Maybe I should have a baby. I'll definitely be more responsible if I have a baby. I won't be able to drink either. Oh shut up, I'm NOT going to have a baby just to make myself feel better about myself. You complete idiot. I'll have to drink lime and tonic at parties, say I'm on antibiotics... whatever happens I'm never getting drunk EVER AGAIN.
Real enough? Frustratingly so.
Obviously this morning I've been a model character. I meditated and I went for a long walk and I decided to give up alcohol for a month. I WILL be the character I want to be, I think to myself. And yet, although I'll make every effort, I sense THE GREAT WRITER is laughing at me. I've missed something important. I'll be a perfect character for a short while, but never forever.
Perhaps I need to have better look in my pocket. Perhaps there is a secret in there after all.
|A View from this Morning's Walk|