Wednesday, October 26, 2005

They're ALIVE!

When I was a kid, my mother wanted to have me taken to a psychologist because I used to tell myself stories.

And change voices for each character.

Thankfully my grandmother told her not to break my spirit and to encourage my imagination.

I've noticed whenever I talk about writing with people who don't write, inevitably I come off sounding certifiably insane. Sad, but true. Because for each character that lives in the confines of my head, there is a different voice. Gods and goddesses, demons and angels, housewives, teachers, students, doctors, lawyers, and vampires (yes, there is a difference between those last two), all live in my head. For each character, there is a different voice -- and the voices don't go away when I stop working on a piece. My head is like an ever-expanding boarding house. Old characters from unfinished stories mingle with new characters from current works. They network -- sometimes the old characters come to me after a long time and I realize they'd fit perfectly in what I'm working on now.

But imagine what kind of looks you'd get if you freely admitted that the people in your head talked to you.

Other writers' methods are a mystery to me; for me, it's most fun when a character just... appears out of the ether and starts whispering in my ear. It happened a couple of weeks back, actually. I was getting ready to go out somewhere when I felt that little spark in my mind. Wet hair wrapped up in a towel, I stopped what I was doing and went to the computer just so I could get what she was saying. She has nothing to do with my current, constant project, and nothing at all may come of her, but she was interesting enough for me to want to get to know her better. And so, whenever she deigns to speak to me (which, inevitably, will happen when I'm rinsing shampoo from my hair, or when I'm stuck in traffic), I will do my best to record what she has to say, because you never know when a character has a truly interesting story to tell.

I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I wonder if a fertile imagination will someday be labeled as a variety of mental illness. Is "hearing voices" indicative of mental illness if you acknowledge those voices to belong to entirely fictional characters?

Or is this a can of worms best left sealed? ;)


Blogger jason evans said...

If you actually hear them as an auditory impulse, like someone is standing beside you, that's, um, notable.

October 27, 2005 3:02 PM  
Blogger Bunneh said...

*snickers* Um, no. No, not at all like that. And I'm thankful for it.

I blame it all on being an only child, actually. I had amuse myself somehow, and ended up creating people with whom to amuse myself.

October 27, 2005 3:13 PM  
Blogger jason evans said...

Only child here also. Hey, I wonder if that condition correlates with fiction writers??

October 27, 2005 3:59 PM  
Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Oldest of four.

I dream about my characters. I killed a character (in first person, no less), and for two days I was afraid to answer the door (I just was going to be the police).

October 27, 2005 8:33 PM  
Blogger Bunneh said...

Hrm. Maybe the only children had no siblings to tormen-- uh, I mean play with so we had to entertain ourselves. When I was very small, before I could write, I made up plays with my stuffed animals. Sometimes I drew pictures that told stories, kind of like a comic book w/o words (since I hadn't learned to write yet). It really is how I kill time. I have a propensity to "zone out" that got me into a LOT of trouble in school. :P

And... maybe the oldest of four needed an outlet so he didn't lose his marbles? A respite from uber-responsibility? Anyone? Anyone?

October 27, 2005 9:07 PM  
Blogger Mark Pettus said...

I'm not so sure about your theory. You see, I still don't know what happened to those marbles.

I think maybe being the oldest, I created my own isolation. My brothers came along pretty quickly behind me, and we travelled together most of the time. When I could, I went off in my own little world.

October 28, 2005 8:40 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

What was WRONG with your mother?
That sort of play is considered proper evidence of not only imagination, but also brains.

December 05, 2005 11:56 AM  
Blogger Bunneh said...

LOL! Don't be too hard on her. My mom's the oldest of eight and will be the first to admit she's not wildly imaginative. My grandmother, on the other hand, had an unfinished novel in her bottom drawer.

December 05, 2005 12:02 PM  

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