Monday, 8 December 2008

How Wondrous Parlous is an Inner Critic

I've been shamefully neglectful of late on blog postings - mostly because of the bleak midwinter depression that sets in for Lit students just before the Christmas holidays. Exams, exhausting essays, miserable weather and the forced merriment of Christmas student parties take quite a toll! But before I succumb to the dissipations of the season and lose all coherent writing ability, I thought I'd write about that little internal mechanism that takes over when I'm writing. I wonder if it's true for all authors? Whether the characters sit on your shoulder, offer little critques - often downright insults - and when benignly inclined send darts of inspiration that let the story go on?

There's a very famous painting of Dickens called Dickens' Dream where the great man himself sits with thousands of tiny tableaux - figures, characters, sketches from his work, all sit about him. Some look up at him, some aren't aware of his existence. It's as though only a select few are there to inspire. Of course, it would be a wonderful thought if one's characters could do that , although it certainly doesn't happen in any of my original creations. They quiver with feeble life and then sink back down into apathy.

But there are definitely select guardians for my fanfiction. For instance, my very first Les Miserables fic was guarded by the taciturn Javert. He initially looked something like Geoffrey Rush from the 1998 movie - but he seemed to improve much on being dead, and within a few months of writing it had taken on a far more benign personality - like an irritable Parisian Sherlock Holmes. (I did once attempt to write Holmes fanfiction, by the way - before I was even aware fanfiction existed. I was eleven, and Mary Sues abounded. There was this blonde, logical, damsel in distress, and a jealous quarrel between Holmes and Mycroft. Needless to say, that's buried on an island somewhere out of reach of mortal man).

I hardly like to mention the present guardian of Tu Salus Fidelium, in case he becomes offended and disappears, but the good Lord of Tripoli has practically written himself. I'm not quite sure where the reckless drinking habit came from - nor the hesitant insecurities, and in retrospect Tiberias could very well be medieval noir - a twelfth century version of the cynical, hard-drinking detective in a dog-eat-dog world. But he's an affectionate character underneath it all, and when he chooses to exercise his influence the story flows like a dream.

1 comment:

Mercury Gray said...

Your story is guarded by Tiberias. Now that IS unfortunate -- he's probably fierce gaurdian when needed to be. Maybe when I'm done with finals I'll coax him off your shoulder and frighten some ideas into him by way of a lovely little lady named Eschiva.

I don't know that my characters advise me in the way that you describe -- I do know that my Pride and Prejudice characters have all taken a love shack in Tahiti and occasionally deign to call home. (Lady Catherine would be scandalized her great nephew is behaving in such a way, but that's George for you.)