I believe in fried potato. I believe in watching tv shows on the tv instead of the laptop. So, when I sit down to write, I think of Christina Yang kicking some serious ass on Grey’s Anatomy and I’m munching on chips, it should come as no surprise I’m in a happy space in my life. However, that is not what this post is about—Christina Yang kicking ass.
This post is about characters. The ones that I want to create. Okay, let’s start with one for now. It’s about the character I want to create. It’s about this girl who loves to travel and make conversation with an intelligent guy. But, but, that girl is not me. It’s about this girl who can, sometimes, scream when she sees a bicycle cos she’s wanted to ride one since forever, and one who jumps in joy when she walks into a zoological park; except that that girl is not me. So, this character that I want to create has to be disjointed from who I am. She can’t, cannot, can never be me. So, what do I do? I ask myself, I look some more, I make my mind to read up, I try to get perspective and I wait. Wait for her to come. And while I’m at it, I wonder what kind of a guy would she meet on one of those travels. Would he be rugged? Would he not be rugged? He would definitely have to hold a conversation with her, looking into her eyes, that goes beyond “Would you like to have coffee with me?” So then, there would be no harm in having coffee. And he can be nice, gentlemanly and even tough in a deep kind of way. But I think she could also meet a guy she could be sneering at because he’s not willing to pull up a chair for her. Or she’s screaming at him because he is at her. Or maybe a guy who can tell her why a song is not really a song but really a hymn. But that would be way too conventional, wouldn’t it? How many stories have those kind of things! Where the boy gives the girl trivia and she wonders, while drinking her soft drink, if he’s actually telling the truth. Nah! It would seem lifted, almost. It would seem like you’ve seen it somewhere. You wouldn’t want to read a story like that, would you?
So, I’m still looking for my character. I’m waiting for her to waltz in when I’m waiting for a train à la J. K. Rowling, so then I can concoct a story around her. Waiting for her to form in my mind based on the word cloud on my notebook. I’m trying to create her from looking at other people, observing them. And I’m waiting to see who I come up with and what that girl likes and hates. What she likes to talk about or even scream about. I’m waiting to see if she is going to meet a nice guy or a conventional bloat-head? And who is this guy, anyway? And why is he so important to the story? Why is he supposed to roll his eyes when asked to pick the towel? And why is he supposed to know how the soda-maker works?
And that is why I need my characters to not be me. Because I know how a soda-maker works. But that wouldn’t make sense, would it? What is it that would make my character separate from me? I don’t want to write about soda-makers or The Godfather. I want to write about what my character knows. How does she deal with strangers on the road or badly folded clothes. And how she talks to men who contradict everything she says. That’s what I want to know. So, while I try to find out how to do that I’ll just be happy with the characters around me. I’ll go back to see Christina Yang rise to greatness, and she must. I’ll go back to being happy with talking history with someone inside me. I’ll go back to the immediate bliss provided by fried potato.
And while I munch on the fat-laden carbohydrate, I wonder how would it be if my character had to meet a guy with niceness, chivalry and all that jazz.
But then again, someone has said you only write what you know.