Dear Journal: In Character

character_profile_boyDear Journal,

When I write in first person it’s sometimes hard to forget that the main character isn’t me. Sure, there are always bits and pieces of me present in each and every one. They all bleed the same as me, with their hearts on their sleeves, and with ulterior motives coloring almost every one of their moves, but they’re not me. They’re some other animal indeed, figments of my imagination that inhabit the page.

We all write what we know, or at least someone said that ages ago, so that’s why my characters seem to resemble me more often than not. And I have to admit that when I’m in the throes of writing, when I’m ankle deep in the trenches, I can’t separate the two, and most times I wouldn’t want to anyway. At those times, in those moments, I am my character. I am the epitome of everything metaphorically sweet, but also of everything devastatingly foul, about each and every one of them. I can love them and hate them with equal fervor by loving and hating myself when I’m over this keyboard breathing life into them.

Then, at other times, there is a distance, a forced focus to maintain this separation between me and them, at those times when they’re at their most despicable. I see them in the mirror and I turn away because I know they’ll give me a look that says “we’re in this together now,” and I don’t want to take the journey with them. I keep my distance so I can keep writing, so they can keep breathing and I don’t strangle them to death with my bare hands for being something I could never in a million years be.

But regardless of it all, we’re connected in a way that cannot be outdone. Once I’ve given them life they live and grow, believing in themselves and in their potential, even if I at first didn’t see where they could go with what I had given them. And I’m glad, despite where some of them end up, because each one is a part of me, like it or not.

Sam

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