Don’t Make It Weird

If you know a writer, then there is a very good chance they’ve imagined you naked.

Don’t worry. It’s not what you think.

There is a thing that separates writers (or more broadly, “creatives”) from normal humans: observant-ness. That’s not a word, but just roll with it. Creatives are very observant.

Think about it this way: someone who paints landscapes probably spends a lot of time looking at… landscapes. A painter will stare at a breathtaking vista or sea shore or mountain range for hours, soaking in the views and committing as much to memory as they could, so they could recreate it later on canvas. And no one would think that’s weird. In fact, it would be kind of impressive, right? I think so. I can’t do that for too long. I can look out at a beautiful view for a few minutes and then I’m bored. I’m done. Take me home. There are cats on the Internet that need my attention.

Writers are not in the business of studying landscapes. There are no books about landscapes. Books are about people, so any writer worth his/her salt will study those things.

In a future post, I will outline the Laws of Writodynamics. The First Law applies to my next point, wherein I will declare that no writer has ever created a completely original character from purely his or her own mind.

Never.

No one.

Every character is based on someone or something that the author has encountered in real life. Maybe their protagonist is loosely patterned after their favorite uncle. The antagonist resembles a particularly cruel lunch lady from elementary school. Hitler, Gandhi, Typhoid Mary, Joan of Arc

Writing is so sacred and personal because everything in the book contains a tiny piece of the writer. It’s like a box full of heirloom Christmas ornaments: everyone else might think they’re ugly and full of typos (what?), but you have so many wonderful memories attached, you can’t even see the dust, or comma splices.

“Get to the point!” you’re yelling. “What does this have to do with why you imagine me naked?!”

Everyone a writer meets gets logged into the landscape bank. The better we know you, the more deposits are made at that bank. The more interesting you are, the bigger the deposits are. When a writer has a shiny, new, blank character, they go rifling through their landscape bank for things to paste onto this fresh person-shaped canvas. This new character is kind on the inside, but prickly on the outside. Like Grampy Jim. He used to yell at us but then put candy in our coat pockets when he thought we weren’t lookingGrampy Jim liked those oysters in a can. This character likes them, too.

And so on.

Sometimes it isn’t even conscious.

So if you’re friends with a writer, read their books or stories or poems. If you come across a character that you think seems a little bit like you… you might be right. And if that character is naked, well, that’s still you. Naked. In my mind.

P.S. Don’t get offended if the You-character dies. It’s not personal. 😀

3 thoughts on “Don’t Make It Weird

  1. Pingback: The Laws of Writodynamics | Taylor L Scheid

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