I have recently run a series of articles around what we can learn from writing. These included two great guest posts about language and learning from writing and then my own take on practice. I’m sure there are lots more than we discussed and everyone is going to learn all sorts of different things; whether strange or wonderful will also vary.
In relation to this I thought I would share the strangest thing I’ve learnt from my writing.
There are a lot of strange things I have learnt from my writing but top of the list is the life the characters develop; how real they can be and how demanding. I find that they tend to tell their own story and I’m just a medium between the character and the page. Sometimes they aren’t that clear and other times I have actually stopped typing and thought: “Wow! Where did that come from? Why did you say that? Is that why you have been behaving the way you have? or What do you know that I don’t?”
Most of my characters are far more intuitive and observant than I am.
Some of them are able to solve plot problems when I’m not, others create them. They live a life of their own.
It is a wonder where they come from. Whether my own imagination, my subconscious or my muse they seem to be separate entities from me. I may have created them, or given them life but they live that life how they like. More often than not they live how they see fit and not how I want them to. It’s like being a parent and hoping you kids grow up to be clever, useful sort of people in healthy relationships but they don’t. They do their own thing, experiment, get into fights, pick the wrong men, or miss out on the good ones.
The best way to deal with this? I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I let them go their own way and see what happens. If they drag the story too far from where I think it should be I try to reign them in. More often than not they know better than me what they’re doing and it’s better to wait it out and see where they are going.