Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You might be a writer if...

I've been knee-deep in world-creation these last weeks. I'm writing a retelling of Frankenstein set in a dystopian future, which means the world is mine to make (and break). It got me to thinking about DesCartes. Cogito ergo sum...I think therefore I am. As an author, I not only think my characters into being. I think their world into being. Kind of leaves an all-powerful aftertaste.

You might be a writer if...you've developed a god complex.

And society thought only surgeons could do that. How little does the world know about the secret lives of writers. Saving limbs and lives is nothing in the daily routine of a writer. We create worlds. Destroy them. Shape alternate universes for our own. Rewrite history. And make it all so real, readers cry, laugh, rejoice and hate as passionately as they do in the real world.

It can leave a writer feeling a bit like god.

I have to admit, though, the godliness I experience is not only that of a god of great joy but one plagued by  doubt, concern, tears, frustration, and hopelessness. It is an ever so fatally human god. Still, to be a writer means to think like a god. To be willing not only to breathe life into characters and worlds but also to destroy them with wrath, vengeance, or worst of all, for the good of the story. We kill our darlings, in the words of Faulkner.

I giggle to myself guiltily now when my husband (he's a doc himself) talks surgeons and god-complexes. If only he knew, he was living with a writer who suffers than very same complex squared.

At least he hasn't found all of those darlings stuffed under the floorboards yet. Or the alternate worlds that are crammed into the closets. Nobody ever said just because we kill or destroy our darlings we have to throw them away. We writers may be dastardly but we are environmentally conscious. We recycle nixed storylines and characters all of the time. That's the great thing about playing god. We can kill them off one day and bring them back to life the next.

Ah, the joys of being a writer!

3 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

The real struggle for me is to be willing to kill them off --or to let bad things happen to characters I really like. That takes a lot of nerve, even on paper!

Stacy Nyikos said...

It does. And then I start second-guessing myself when I should just do the dirty work and live with my dastardly deeds!

Stacy Nyikos said...

It does. And then I start second-guessing myself when I should just do the dirty work and live with my dastardly deeds!