Saturday, July 25, 2009
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.