And then I wonder to myself, would I ever write someone I know into a fictional story? The short answer is no…
“My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain” — Charlie Chaplin
First, when it comes to grudges, my emotional baggage would definitely fit in the overhead compartment of a turbo prop plane. At this point in my life, I know that life is too short to carry grudges, so I let most of them go.
Second, I try not to live in the grudge zone in general or to put myself in the path of grudges. Life is also too short to waste precious energy like that.
Third, if I did carry a grudge, why would I immortalize the subject in my art? If I wouldn’t give someone the time of day, why would I make them the protagonist of a novel I will be working on for months? That seems completely counter intuitive to me.
Actually, when working on fiction projects in my little piece of the writing universe, I have been fascinated by how story characters have tended to create themselves.
I could be driving to or from work, watching traffic inch along as I listen to some mellow music, and it is like an audition of characteristics revolving through my subconscious. Those characteristics then start to stick together, slowly forming the qualities of an entity. Over time, they start taking on a life of their own… in a fictional sense.
I can’t tell you what a mess it can be when a bunch of characters show up at the same time and all want to tell you about themselves at the same time. I remember a Saturday morning, wanting to get groceries, then having to postpone my shopping for an hour while a collection of story characters were introducing themselves. What an exhausting experience! I guess I was tuned in to the right frequency that day.
When characters “appear” like that, where do they come from? Is it imagination? Is it creativity? Is it one’s subconscious? Is the writer channeling from a source? Very good questions indeed.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that story characters are probably a composite of the thousands of people a writer may have met over a lifetime. Story characters, just like humans, are very complex beings whose lives are much like fabric, woven from millions of threads, in very intricate patterns.
I would like to think that my natural curiosity and my fascination with people and their stories have opened my heart and mind sufficiently to hang on to those inspirational characteristics that could eventually anchor a story.
My friends, family and colleagues have shared so many stories from the fabric of their lives, I hope they don’t mind if I occasionally borrow a thread or two here and there, especially the inspiring elements that left a lasting impression.
But those elements will likely end up being attributed to characters in which the originator would never recognize themselves nor would anyone likely see an association…“Any resemblance is purely coincidental”.
If a story goes down a bumpy road and harm befalls a character that a friend thinks is based on them, I wouldn’t the friend to be offended and to come back and say, “You killed me off?”
Also, in the electronic age, people’s reputations can be pretty fragile. I would not want a story character to be instantly recognizable and for readers to mistakenly blur the line between art and real life, especially if a fictional character engages in some form of bad behaviour, in the name of drama.
Being a writer does have its share of responsibilities!
To my family, friends and co-workers, rest assured, you have nothing to fear!
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Have a great day,