Major, major thanks to Hanna for the idea and for hosting.
I – or well, Charlie – met some really interesting and amazingly creative people. My first instinct was to respond to Hanna’s post as myself, commenting on how I thought everybody was so great and creative and how I liked all their characters. But then everyone else started posting AS their characters! And at first I thought – well this is silly. But then I thought – no. This is BRILLIANT. (With a capital BARBARA KINGSOLVER)
I’ve never tried to be my character outside of the story. It’s actually pretty difficult, but I think I nailed him.
See – I used to be really creative. Since college, though, I haven’t been able to come up with a completely unique plots with completely unique characters that feel like flesh and blood to me. It’s sort of depressing – to be a writer without a single unique thought. I kept pulling from my life – using dramatic events with real people that I tried to turn into characters. It was bad. Just. Bad.
As I think I mentioned before, Ana and Paul’s story came to me during a car trip to the Catskills. In the dead of winter. And before I knew it, I had three characters who all felt very real to me. Sure they sprang from my mind, but they somehow feel more substantial than just imaginary characters in an imaginary world. And really, they dictate what happens to them.
For instance, I was filling out Charlie’s invite questionnaire and came to the Occupation question. Now, I know what Paul does for a living. And I know what Ana does. But it won’t ever really matter what Charlie does – he exists to further develop the characters of Ana and Paul more than anything else. Now, I know I have creative license to make Charlie do anything I want. My first thought was to put down “Unemployed,” since Charlie is sort of the black sheep, always bunted to the side by A&P. But that felt entirely too wrong. I felt like Charlie was yelling at me, “Hello! I may let those two idiots walk all over me, but I’m not a complete loser! I DO stuff. Figure out what I DO!” Kindergarten teacher came to me rather suddenly and I realized how perfect it was. I can see him teaching. He’s so good with the kids, so kind hearted, so fun. He treats them with respect and so the kids adore him. I LOVE that this is what Charlie does.
Also, when I first started writing this, I was lovingly telling my cousin all about each of the characters. I told her I couldn’t wait to write Chapter Three – Christmas Eve. Charlie brings a new girlfriend to the house and Ana announces to everyone that she and Paul are having a baby. This is the first time Paul hears of it. In Chapter One, Paul avoids the baby topic. He doesn’t want one.
My cousin said (sarcastically): “I’m sure Paul’s going to love that.”
And my first thought was, Oh my gosh! She knows him too!