Monday, March 7, 2011

Creating Character - A different perspective

The following post is by the protagonist in my novel-in-progress titled, A Girl Named Fish. It is the creation of character from the character’s point of view.
I am Joan, though I’ve had other names. Some names I was called only for a moment, an identity that burst through the soil of my creator’s mind, only to shrivel under the heat of scrutiny. Those were difficult days. I was mute. Unfounded.

I’m not like you. I can recall my primordial. Can construct my world’s genesis with intact steps. Mine is a creation of misunderstanding. Of being known as much by what I am not as by what I am – have turned out to be.

My world shakes with violent change that sometimes swallows people whole. Sometimes spits other people up from the ground. I gather the ones I love most near me, as near as possible, trying to keep them safe from a wrath that seems intentional and arbitrary. I try, but my creator spreads us over the landscape of story, which rises up, and then caverns down, forming a strange topography only she understands – if she truly does understand. There is evidence she does not. I can only hold on and trust there is a plan.

Not only my surroundings change, but also the world that exists when I close my eyes. My inner world morphs, my own mind changes. My memory roughens. My demons grow teeth.

All of this takes too much time. It is too slow an upheaval to be bore. I am alone too much. When my creator isn’t looking, I flag in stillness. A glance from her, and I spurt like a summer vine. But she looks away too often. I know why. It’s because of where I come from. She had to travel to the aching place to find me. She had to journey to the cry in the spine in order to unearth me from under my cloak of strange grace.

I am glad she has persisted. I have my own skin now, and I like having form and substance. Spirit moves freely, but it is my bones that make me real. That give me voice. Ah voice. I speak to my creator now. She listens closely. Drops my words on a scale, measuring them is if they were her own idea. But I am naming the world now. I do this from a memory I carry with me from the aching place.

I speak to my creator in somatic impressions, which I press into the cells of her body. The smell, taste, and sound of all that I am, all that exists in the story in which I dwell. I bring these impressions to life in my creator’s organs and limbs, her bones as well as her brain. I crawl around inside her skin until she’s forced to scratch me out with her words.

Yes, I leave the words to her –the nouns, the verbs they are of no concern. What matters to me is that I am understood. That my story transfers into the mind of my creator. My real story is the one my creator did not create, but discovered within the aching place. I have become an invasion of terrible clarity.

She is responsible for the words. I am the one who brings the knife of whole truth and uses it to tear the temple veil, and reveal the holy of holies inside her mind. And Bonnie discovers I exist, not to change the world, but to change her.


Megan Sayer said...

Bonnie. This. Is. Just. BEAUTIFUL.

How have you here managed to represent the creation of a fictional character in such a way that the act of her fictional creation is echoing in my soul? It's like what you've written here is pulling memories out of the depth of far as I know (hehe) I'm real. I guess it's an illustration of the (creative, restorative) power of words.
This is sabre-toothing amazing.

Which reminds me (oh sorry...tangentally again...) have you read Jostein Gaardner's Sophie's World? It is in a very similar vein. I LOVED it.

Sandra Stiles said...

All I can say is wow! I loved it. I love your protagonist. I hope that one day mine will speak as loud.

Dina Sleiman said...

Pretty as a prose poem. After this, I'm very excited to read your novels.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Traveling to the aching place. Yep, I know about that.

Her demons growing teeth. Yes.

This is wonderfully captured, Bonnie.
~ Wendy

Bonnie Grove said...

Megan: Thank you so much. Sabre-tooth amazing. You defiantly need to use that somewhere in your writing.
I haven't read Sophie's World, no. I'll have to look it up. Thanks!

Sandra: Thank you. Cheers to loud protagonists!

Dina: Thanks. I'm honored.

Wendy: Thank you so much.

Latayne C Scott said...

Brilliant writing, Bonnie. You know how I judge brilliant writing? It stirs images and words from within me, brings hidden things to life and makes me feel the same kind of creative abandon you showed. It's contagious.

Bless you. Thank you. I have a pile of notes of awakened concepts beside my computer since I read what you wrote.

Marian said...

I'm introducing your Joan to my Toni. Maybe while I'm not looking she'll absorb some depth.

Bonnie Grove said...

Latayne: To have my writing be called brilliant by a writer of your caliber gives me chills. I can't express what that means to me.

Marian: Here's to Toni and her increasing depth!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Bonnie. Just brilliant.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Shiver-making. Beautiful, awful, precise.

Can you please hurry up and finish this book so we can read it? ;)

Henrietta Frankensee said...

I'm glad I read this with a cat on my lap and a dog dreaming at my feet. Otherwise I think I would have been howling on the floor, gnashing my teeth with the exquisite agony of its beauty. My spine cries under the toes of a thousand needles and my soul runs helter skelter trying to avoid the aching place, falling into the cavern of its truth between the warmth of animal fur and the chill of my primordial. I'll sleep with one eye open tonight. With deepest respect, H

Sharon said...

Incredible reflection on the process of writing. I would say that my non-fiction is driven this way also. I really identify! Astounding approach.

I read it to my husband, He said : "this makes me meditate about "free" will.

Footprints From the Bible by Cynthia Davis said...

Lovely-thank you for sharing.

Ellen Staley said...

"I have become an invasion of terrible clarity." Awe inspiring! This is the third time I've read through your profoundly moving post. Thank you for plumbing the depths of your soul to release the birth of Joan.

Bonnie Grove said...

Sharon: You know I love you, girl. Mwah!

Karen: Thanks so much. I'm writing as fast as I can! I promise. Thanks for your encouragement - means so much!

Henrietta: We do want to avoid the aching place. And sometimes avoiding it is the healthy thing to do. I sometimes wonder if some of histories wonderful writers might have been spared madness if they were better able to wait for the right time to visit that aching place. It must not be pushed.

Bonnie Grove said...

Sharon: What an insightful comment from your husband. He must be wonderful company. Thank you for your encouragement.

Cynthia: Thank you so much.

Ellen: I'm so glad you've found something useful in the post. Thank you for sharing your encouragement.

I'm feeling well loved.

Steve G said...

Some people spend 5 minutes thinking about there next blog post. I appreciate the time you and the other Novel Matters ladies spend on yours. When you spend this time and effort on your blog, I understand anew why I love your novels.

Fantastic, Lovely.

Word verification - redleds - slang for scarlet crayons.