Character Lines

I was recently bestowed with the questionable compliment that I “Speak fluent asshole”. This might seem like a strange thing to be proud of, but since it was a comment given in response to a character that I’d written and since the character was legitimately written to be an asshole, I’m pleased to know that my attempt was successful. 

I sometimes wonder, as I write the less savory characters in my stories, whether the fact that I can write them at all is evidence that these are undeveloped elements of my own personality coming out in the only constructive way that I know how to release them. There, but for the stroke of a pen, go I. Is it normal to be such a legion of personalities? Or is this a unique talent of storytellers? I somehow can’t imagine my grandfather, for instance, spending much time imagining himself in the life of another person- real or imaginary. Meanwhile I find it endlessly fascinating to slip in and out of the minds of all different kinds of characters going through all kinds of situations. 

To realize that I have the capacity to bring out such a range of characters- and not all of them good- makes me wonder what this says about me as a person. If I write a racist bully does that mean that there is an element of racist bully in my own personality? I suspect that it does: to believe myself incapable of racism or bullying would be a bigger act of self deception than accepting that I might have racist or bullying impulses. And if I have these character elements in my own personality, do I have an ethical obligation to do anything about them? Aside from putting characters on the page, I generally work pretty hard to keep my racism to myself and to avoid bullying (among other awful impulses). At what point is the line drawn between having an impulse and acting on an impulse? Is that the line that we call morality? Conscience?  How do we decide where this line should go? Perhaps this is the true outline of our character: the dividing line between what we keep inside and what we let out into the world. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 31, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: