Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Pookas


Sometimes I feel like the character Elwood P. Dowd, the guy Jimmy Stewart played in that movie “Harvey”. Only I’m not dealing with a 6’3” rabbit named Harvey, I’m dealing with my various human characters. My characters are on my mind, morning, noon, night, and day. They go where I go and they take me where they go. They speak to me and I can hear their thoughts.

Harvey, in case you don’t know, was a pooka. A pooka is some kind of mischievous fairy-like creature from Celtic mythology. As a kid, I found “Harvey” the movie confusing. Was that big old rabbit real? Or were all those grown-ups nuts?

Where do my characters come from anyway? Sometimes they resemble someone I know, or have known, but mostly they just pop into my brain, and make themselves evident to me. Revealing their traits and foibles one by one. I’m as surprised by their behavior as I can be. Oftentimes I have trouble influencing them. Writers talk about controlling their characters, I have a hard time with certain ones. They like to boss me around. They like to give me the run around. Are they pookas? I wonder.

Take Carly Ratzke, the very-sexy-double-jointed, part-time yoga instructor, part time realtor that showed up in my brainspace a few weeks ago. Carly puts herself in a love hate relationship with every man she hooks up with, and quite often tinkers around knowingly with their lives. She can’t help but manipulate and control. I try to teach her lessons. I try to lead her down a better path. But she’s absolutely hell-bent on ruining these men. I had to tell Carly that I’m leaving her alone in a file on the desktop for a while. She’s not learning anything; she’s not developing into the kind of a character that a reader could empathize with. I prefer to write stories about people that deserve to be the center of attention on the page, and the poor thing, she can’t seem to help it, she’s what you’d call downright mean. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage”, came to mind, and his character Mildred, who’s even worse than Carly. But Mildred wasn’t the protagonist in Maugham’s masterpiece, Philip Carey was. Mildred treats Philip horribly and he changes, thank goodness.

I suppose I could fish around in my consciousness, find a counterpart to Carly, a nice strong man, someone capable of turning her despicable penchant to harm into affection. A real nice guy, a special guy, someone that Carly can’t bring herself to hurt. But, I wouldn’t want to become a willing participant in constructing the circumstances where she might do harm to such a man, so I’ll leave her be for a while. Sometimes it works out that way.

Right now I’m getting to know Russell Greer, he’s dealing with the recent birth of his down-syndrome son. I think we’re a better fit.








All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

20 comments:

lakeviewer said...

It must be exhausting keeping everyone of your characters from invading every one of your minutes. But then, that's what you do. Without your energy, they wouldn't exist.

Cloudia said...

Interesting characters you have (or they have you ;-)

Aloha-

Comfort Spiral

Marguerite said...

Wow Elizabeth! I love your vivid imagination! It's what fuels your wonderfully, creative, writing. I have a few Pookas of my own. lol Cheers!

K. said...

I envy your imagination! I don't have so many characters stumbling all over themselves in my mind. Also, mine are not telling me how they want to behave!

Angie Ledbetter said...

I learned a new word/meaning today with pooka. Good luck with continued WIP progress!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Wow! What interesting characters! Can't wait to hear what they do next, especially Carly.

Once I start writing a story, I find my characters following me around wherever I go and invading my dreams until I "kiss them goodbye" at the final end of editing and ship them off to the world of possible publishing.

Sara said...

This is my first visit to your site and I love your talk about about your characters.

I really believe the characters that pop up in your head are there for a reason...they have something to say.

While you may not want to pursue Carly, it sounds like she's got a story to tell. Who knows maybe Carly will change as the words get written?

I find her interesting, by the way!

Great post:~)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks guys. Not all my characters are Pookas. Thank God. One shows up every now and then. And Sara, I'm sure you make a good point, they all have something to say, I need to LISTEN and do my job.

Jody Hedlund said...

Very creative characters! I wish mine came to me that easily! Mine take a lot of time and effort to get to know. I have to spend hours and hours with them before I finally feel like I can write their stories.

Suldog said...

Well, don't let Carly anywhere near Russell, please :-)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Jim, your mind works so differently than mine. I hadn't even given the possibility that Carly could get her hands on Russell a second thought. I'm daft that way!

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh to have more control over some of the book people who live in my head! That's the joy of writing...right? Great post!

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic imagination !! This is great..

Eternally Distracted said...

Congratulations for an ability to deal with all these characters - I think I would believe I was going slowly insane! Enjoyed your post very much.

Jenn said...

You can't begin to know how much I identify with this whole post! I'm working on a novel right now that is about the internal struggle of a woman who pretty much gave up her whole life to other people and when those people are taken she has to try to find who she is, if there is anyone in there at all. She is a good character and I think she will be received well but I have yet to arc her so her entire demeanor is still so down that every time I write her I get depressed. I have to be in just the right frame of mind to put any of her on the page.

This is awesome, glad to know I'm not the only one :-)

PopArtDiva said...

I love the idea of your characters as pookas! A pooka (Púca if you're going old Irish) is one of the many varieties of fairy folk that populate Gaelic mythology. Puccas are shape shifters so maybe you can force them into a particular character concept?

I've often felt that my art has a life of it's own - many times I find myself fighting against the creation's own ideas, lol. I found out a long time ago that it's wiser to let the work become what it wants than to fight against it - though this goes against my artistic ego!

Can't wait to see what happens when Carly finally bursts out on paper!

Anne Spollen said...

I think a younger version of Carly was my college roommate...

Cheryl said...

Mine fade in and out of existence. I worry I have to grab hold of them before they fade away. Or maybe I should just spend more time with them.

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