Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Living Vicariously

Great title, huh? Got your attention? Well, thanks go to . . . Tess for suggesting this post.

It seems that my post about what if inspired quite a discussion, not only from commenters, but from yours truly as well.

Tess' actual comment was . . . And, I like your comment about living vicariously through our characters. You could do a whole post on that...it is a great idea and a new way to look at our work. A few other commenters made similar, well, uh, comments - go figure. : )

Do I live vicariously through me (okay, this was a typo, but I left it because it made me sound all Irish - like that Lucky Charm's guy - they're magically delicious!) characters? In many ways, yes. My characters often do things I wouldn't - not in a million, gazillion years, not even with 12 pitchers of margaritas - do. I'm not Tyrone the Margarita Drinking Gladiator, after all (woo-hoo LitGirl01) . . . I just play one in the blogsphere! My characters live the dream, find happily ever after (well, sometimes), have far more stable lives, never seem to clean the house, and only go to the bathroom on occasion. Hmmm, is it so bad being a fictional character? I mean, wouldn't I just love it not to wake up at 2 AM because nature is SHOUTING - not calling, she never seems to gently call out any longer - at me?? Wouldn't it be nice to sleep past 6:30 AM? My characters get to do that all the time, though I have been known to make my characters step in a hair ball or two, and scoop the kitty poop. Hey, it's all about realism here . . . well, a bit of realism.

Now, even with living vicariously, there is a fine blending of fact and fiction. I may pull out certain moments of real life and insert it into the fictional lives of my character(s). I might take a situation and expand, greatly sometimes, on that situation for dramatic effect. Or, as with my current WIP I might take moments of my life and actually respond to a situation - again, for dramatic effect - through the character, in a far different, more dramatic way. Is this living vicariously? Heck, yes.

Is there a downfall to living vicariously? Yes. Sometimes, the emotions (even decades later) run far, far too deep. Last night I was writing a vicarious scene and I actually had to stop writing. The scene - part fiction, part reality - became way, way, way too intense. There was no way I could continue writing. Who knew those emotions still existed within me? I have a feeling the chapter might take a while to write, or I might have to move forward and come back to the chapter. Yeah, it's cathartic, but not easy to write. So, there is a downfall to putting fact into fiction, even when doing the vicarious thang!

So, what do your characters vicariously do that you wish you could do? Anything? Everything? How much real life do you invest in your characters, especially in emotional and/or confrontational scenes? Do you draw upon your own experience? Do you visual the fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner/whatever, play it out differently on paper, and feel the same anger/disappointment/whatever as when it actually happened? Do you feel drained afterwards? Do you feel better afterwards? Or, like Makita, do you not want so much of my life in my writing?

Last, in drawing from real life, and fictionalizing those events, do our fiction novels somehow inherit a sense of memoir?

Well, that's it for today. Just some food for thought.


p.s. check out the comments from my what if post - there were some great comments that inspired some pretty in-depth thinking on my part.


PJ Hoover said...

Wow, I want to read what you wrote. Then maybe I can live I can do some vicarious living!

Tess said...

Thanks for the shout out, Scott.

Seriously, I think this is a great discussion topic. I have definitely used bits of myself in my characters....but I never really considered if I was living vicariously through them.

I guess, in some ways, I am.

1. I get to say the perfect snotty thing to the character who deserves it (in real life, I'd let it go...who needs the headache?).

2. I get to create any kind of family situation for my characters. This can be healing sometimes.

3. I get to take all the time in the world to come up with just the right thing to say. In real life, I fumble over words and then come up with the great come back as I'm driving home.

4. Like you, I get to me WAY more daring and brave through my characters.

This is fun and I think I could go on forever...

Lady Glamis said...

Great posts! I do live vicariously through my characters, I must admit. It's weird to look at the strange plots I come up with and know that I'd like to go try out that life just for a day. I can't, so I just write about it.

Interesting question there about memoir. All I know is that I did not keep a journal in college. Why? Because I was too busy writing fiction. Turns out, 8 years later, that those pieces of fiction speak louder an evoke more emotion and thoughts and memories than any journal entry could.

Litgirl01 said...

You know...I think that deep inside, you are Tyrone! LOL I think our characters always have a piece of us! hehe There is nothing at all wrong with living vicariously...all writers do on some level.