Though I have written about True Confessions, the magazine, that it not what this post is about. Oh no, it is an embarrassing personal confession instead, since they are the best kind, of course.
Today I was driving down busy Sandy Boulevard and came to a stop at the traffic signal. A scruffy homeless man crossed the street in front of me and when he neared my car (I was in the lane closest to the sidewalk) he leaned towards it and bent down. It looked a bit like he was lunging toward my vehicle and I glanced quickly over to make sure I had all the doors locked, panicking a little.
But then this man stood, holding a piece of litter and deposited it in the garbage bin on the street. And then he picked up another piece of paper and did the same.
Damn preconceptions about people.
I started to roll my window down to call out a thank you but the light changed and I had to move, so I thought it instead.
I think that sometimes creating characters for fiction kind of falls into the same category or preconceptions. You are completely and totally convinced that your character is not the sort of person who would leave her husband until she does it.
I’ve been fooling around with some new writing projects lately. Nothing specific yet, just allowing myself to write and see what happens (get out of the way and let the story come through). And I’ve noticed that sometimes it takes me awhile to get to know a character. I think I know her and then it turns out (if I get out of the way and let her talk) that she’s different than I thought.
This is sort of like getting to know a new friend. You start out thinking one thing and then you have a conversation and see him in a completely new light. And it truly is just as fun to get to know a character on paper as it is in person. Maybe even more fun, because if they do something really crappy you have the power to make them be quiet for as long as you want.
The moral of the story is to do your best to, yes, you guessed it, get out of the way and let the character come to life on the page.
A head’s up for the future: if any of y’all are going to be in Nashville on the weekend of September 5th and 6th, I’m going to be presenting a workshop at the Path and Pen spiritual writing conference at Scarritt-Bennett. I’m really excited; its going to be very fun.