Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Nothing is as it seems.
True in photography and doubly true in literature.
Sea anemones are not known for speed. In fact they are fairly sedentary.
But they have their obstreperous ways. A shadow. A movement. And those tentacles tuck right in.
A photographer has to be on her toes...or rather on her elbows stretched out on the dock.
My poor beleaguered husband.
"Honey I just want to go for a walk. People are staring. Can you get up now?"
Always hunting.

78 degrees and 9:30 pm.
Where do I stop and my work begins? There is a part of me in everything I do.
I am not Perry. I am not Keith. I am not Gram. These are merely characters. But in many ways they are me. I have given them life. I made them. This is a conundrum to be sure. An interesting problem but a conundrum none the less.
You hear authors protest.
"I am nothing like my main character."
But deep down inside I think they know the truth.
We writers are a mass of undifferentiated multiple personalities. Just waiting to get out. Escape. Be a part of the action.
"The play's the thing." A famous writer said.
And I think that is true.
By the way. If you think you see me in the photograph? You are perceptive. Upper right hand corner.
I am reflected there.
Taking a picture of you.


Heidi the Hick said...

I'm so glad you wrote this because I've been spending way too much time thinking about it.

I have two characters. I worry that "everybody" will think that the crazy little dark haired one is me, or the teenaged version of me. She's not...entirely. She's the me that I wanted to be but wasn't really. The quiet sensitive friend is the me I tried not to be.

Make sense?

I know that I take little bits of me and exaggerate them and that's how I get most of my fake people.

But in case my mom's reading this, I DID NOT DO the crazy things that my fake teenager does!!!

(I cannot figure out how you take these photos...!)

ORION said...

I agree with you Heidi.
My husband is always suspicious of being revealed in my novels. As for me, I think many times that is why I choose males as my MC. I can freely imagine without the angst of everyone thinking I am spilling my guts.
Yes there are parts and pieces -- but generally no.
My characters are not me.
The photo was an opportunity - taken above water on a crisp cold day on a dock while visiting my parents' home in the San Juan Islands.

Demon Hunter said...

Pat, I agree. I do think that our characters echo us in some way. If not from what we show on the surface, then some of our sinister side as well.

Kim Stagliano said...

I'm certain to come under that scrutiny in my MS (I hope I'm so lucky as to have people read it, get it "out there".) I'm not my MC, nor am I her sister, who has two special needs kids. I just knew enough about that world to guide them along in a true to life fashion. I'm not nearly as nice as the Mom, nor as selfish as the MC. I'm practicing saying "I made it up. That's what I do. I make stuff up." :)

ORION said...

Oh sinister side! I like that -
And kim?
How about saying this?
"I'm undergoing treatment for being a pathological liar and my doctor recommends a healthy fantasy life."

I plan to.

Holly Kennedy said...

Authors are the best liars. It's a fair statement, and so "freeing" to be able to write WHO we want and HOW we want them to act and react and misbehave. However, I know for certain bits and pieces and shards of my personality (known or less known because they are private and therefore never shared) come out in the characters I create.

And the beauty of it? That we can take risks on the page we might not otherwise take in real life. Maybe stripping to our skivvies aroudn a fire pit filled with people, or sky diving or jumping off a bridge -- I wouldn't do any of these myself, but *rubbing hands together* my characters sure will!

Maprilynne said...

I think I give some of the strengths I wish I had to my heroes and indulge in my dark side when writing my villains.

I definitely see a piece of myself in all my main characters though. Sometimes just in the physical descriptions. A trait I either have or wish I had. Maybe even a trait I'm glad I don't have. But there is definitely a piece of me in my characters.

I think maybe inserting pieces of ourselves into our characters is what makes readers care about them. It's certainly one of the things that makes me care about my own characters.

BTW, Pat, you're wonderful!!!


writtenwyrdd said...

We write them so they are in us, someplace. That said, my ex-hubby features prominently (in a good way, sort of) in my trunk novel. I'll never tell *wink wink*

Bernita said...

Freely admit my inner bitch comes through now and then.

Therese said...

I am reflected there.
Taking a picture of you.

That's exactly it!

Wendy Roberts said...

Wonderful picture!
Knowing a writer automatically puts your movements, conversations and personality available for the picking. My friends will say is so-and-so really me? My answer is always, Do you want her to be you? A part of my friends (and enemies) always shows itself in my characters and, yes, a part of me.

The most wonderful part of writing mysteries though, is being able to kill off those who annoy you LOL!

Sam said...

I See you!!
Too Cool!
The color of that water is absolutely astounding.

Kim Stagliano said...

Come visit me (and Paul?) on Cape Cod this summer. You can take photos of brackish water and rocks.... Wear your pool shoes, Cape beaches are merciless on the tootsies!

ORION said...

I might do that Kim!
Many insightful comments here.
I think besides the characterization you can see a glimpse of the author in much of their work.

Kanani said...

Good anything requires the absence of self consciousness, of the willingness to delve, taking a tiller to heart and hand and digging very deeply within.

I find that the characters allow us to explore parts of ourselves that perhaps we would not have if we were not writing. In them we can find love, humility, anger, sensuality, violence and tragedy. From them we can experience some things that perhaps we've been able to not resolve as well as we would've liked.

I think of my characters as the loveliest gift from within. Writing is a humbling act that forces us to look within, to accept and to receive.

ChumleyK said...

Your husband's comments sound a lot like my husband's comments. If I pick up the camera before we go for a walk, he gets grumpy. "I wanted to go for a Walk today, not a Stand."

ORION said...

ha ha ha ha ha