Unreasonably Anxious About a Fictional Character

Posted on 31/01/2012 by


Caris: And he’s sitting in the meeting thinking, Wish I could just shoot him. Jamie would have shot him by now.
Me: That’s true. But Jamie has impulse control problems.

I’ve decided what I like best about being a writer. Okay, what I like best about being a writer today.

Sometimes, if you ask me what’s going on I will tell you, Today Werd is worried, Tag is dangerously reckless and Dillon is confused. And it’s not hard to parse that as, I was writing. But sometimes I will tell you that I am worried about Jamie. He’s acting all crazy and I don’t know what he’s going to do next, and he’s got himself in this situation… And you would be forgiven for assuming I was talking about a real person.

When I was a teenager my father, who would walk past these conversations, apparently had an awful lot of trouble distinguishing my real friends from my characters. Hilarious.

The reason I talk about them that way is because I tend to think of them like they’re real people. So I quite regularly find myself in the position of being unreasonably anxious about a fictional character. A fictional character that I invented and then put in this situation. Just because I’m a sadistic god, doesn’t mean I don’t care.

The cool thing though. Is that other people have started doing it too.

Me: Gray is a bit of an alcoholic and he’s in denial about it, whereas Zen —
Paul S: I always thought Zen was in denial.
Me: What? But he — you — Oh. Really?*


* I didn’t create Zen as an addict. But I can totally see how he can be read that way. And no matter what I was thinking, I wrote him consistently twisted. So he might not be lying to himself, but he probably is. More impressively, or perhaps more worryingly, he was successfully lying to me. This is what happens when you inhabit your own characters too closely. Their denial becomes your denial.