Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors. She’s a prolific writer, but she rarely gives interviews. I can understand that; I’m a very private person too. But in one interview, she stated that she never writes about herself. I suspect she was hedging a bit.
Someone asked me which of the characters in my novel-in-progress is me. My answer was, “All of them.” Not that I’m narcissistic. I certainly don’t think I’m the most interesting person I could write about. But—really—who else do I know well enough?
I create a file for each of my characters. Not only do I have a physical description in mind, but I know such things as their full names; birth dates and locations; parents’ and siblings’ names; educational and work backgrounds; the size, style, location and décor of their homes; their likes and dislikes in food, clothing, music, and so on, and so forth, et cetera. This is much more information than I’ll actually use in the book, of course. And as the writing progresses, I might make small changes, or additions to this file, but I need to know my characters as “real people” before I start.
And then—I spend a good deal of my writing time with my eyes closed.
I watch my characters, hear them, feel their emotions, all the while taking notes (or dictation, as I blogged a few days ago). And, just like in my dreams, all these characters are me because they come “out of my mind.”
So, to me, fiction writing is nothing more than dreaming on paper. Lucid dreaming. I do get to be in control, but even then, I need to be open to re-direction, if I start pushing one of my characters in a direction they didn’t intend to go.
So, if you see me sitting with my eyes closed … I’m not napping, I’m writing.