Characters have minds of their own

I am about 8k words into the sequel to Dark and Deep, and it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. Three nights ago Alexander Smith told me that “this has gotten completely and utterly out of control” and walked off set (well, he said it more like “oot a’ contrull”, but you know). The next night he consented to erase the hissy fit but wouldn’t perform. Last night he was back at work, but he yelled at me a little in the process. He really is over the first book at this point. Time to move on.

It’s common to hear writers say that their characters have minds of their own, and it’s true. Many of my characters sprang onto the page fully formed, with their own voices and personalities. If I stop writing while they’re in the lurch, they mind, and will follow me around in my everyday life until I sit down and resolve the trouble. They have moods and whims of their own.

Of course it’s all my own mind playing with me, but it’s delightful to watch my own mind going in so many different directions, especially when it surprises me, which it often does.

A theme that was suggested in the first book and will be more fully developed in the second and third is that “magic” comes from within. These voices in my head make me think about my friends who are Celtic and generally-pagan religious reconstructionists. They have their patron gods with whom they have daily conversations. In the British Iron Age various gods were believed to occupy pools and other landmarks. People would throw small sacrifices into the water and request help in return. I won’t comment on the reality or unreality of these gods or any others, except to observe that such rituals and prayer-meditations can easily be interpreted as conversations with oneself, in which one’s conscious mind personifies and consults with the unconscious parts, allowing a person to find out things they didn’t know they knew. It’s powerful and useful, and spiritually satisfying.

Or, to put the same idea into words that have been attributed to various authors including Joan Didion, Stephen King and E. M. Forster, “I write to find out what I think”. This is so very true for me. What about you?

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