Do you have one?
Did you have one?
If you’re a writer, are your characters your imaginary friends?
Today I binge watched all of Sci Fi’s Happy on Netflix and it made me think a lot about the distinct lack of imaginary friends in my life.
I never made up a taking animal or another human that only I could see and interact with. I’ve always felt slightly less human because of that. I feel like everyone who’s truly creative had an imaginary friend somewhere in their childhood, which cuts me out of the True Creative category.
I did have a stuffed rabbit named Fuzzy in elementary school and later a stuffed frog named Filbert that I had all through high school and college. Filbert was more of an emotional support plushie, a therapeutic tool, while Fuzzy was my BFF.
Somewhere in first grade Fuzzy disappeared. I don’t know if I lost him at school or if my father threw him away because I was too old to be so attached to a stuffed animal or whatever. But with Fuzzy gone I was devastated.
At this point you may be wondering if I had any real friends growing up. The answer is not really. There were a few people but we only interacted at school or through school related activities, I never kept up with them and they never kept up with me once we changed schools.
So in a sense I made my own friends but I used inanimate objects to build my stories and characters upon. I never invented a creature out of thin air, from scratch until I started seriously writing fiction. But I don’t see my characters walking around helping me kill bad guys or cheat at poker. And even though my characters do talk to me it’s only in the context of their stories, they don’t exist in this world with me.
I kinda wish they did, it might make writing easier.
To anyone reading this: what’s your experience with imaginary friends? I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. And if you’ve seen Happy and if you liked it. I personally thought it was amazing.
Mr. J (opens the door to go to work): Hey there’s a new cat outside!
(We live in an apartment complex with lots of stray cats.)
Mr. J: Yeah!
Me: Yeah (Not the happy, enthusiastic “yeah” but the uncomfortable, defeated “yeah” of a person who all cats know will do anything for them and will ultimately suffer the displeasure of her inside feline overlords because the outside cat made big eyes at her yesterday and she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to go without paying homage to the outside cat by giving him/her the inside feline overlords’ treats. And once they find out I’m giving an outside cat treats there will be HELL TO PAY!)
Me (again): Yeah.
Disclaimer: Mr. J loves my cats. But he came into my life many years after they did. They were here first. They don’t understand why he’s here now. They hate him. He does not understand why they hate him, or rather he does but he doesn’t care. Also, we are both vulgar people and swear at our pets just as much as they swear at us in cat language. No cat feelings or human feelings were harmed.
We were watching Master Chef.
Me: Describe the spirit of Tiny Rick if he were food.
Mr. J: A really good stew that you crack a raw egg all over at the last minute.
Mr. J: Because he sneezes all over everything.
Me: Okay, what about Leela?
Mr. J: Tiramisu but you dumped the entire jar of cinnamon over it.
Mr. J: Because the core is good but if you scrape away the top it’s just overwhelming and slightly annoying.
Me: Okay, Titian?
Mr. J: Chocolate pudding. Because she’s a fat piece of shit and slightly runny.
Note: Titain weighs 18.5 lbs. which is big for an American shorthair.
So I just had an epiphany.
I was writing an email to a friend, I like to let her know what I’m working on even though sometimes I feel quite intrusive because she’s made of awesome and does all the awesome things (more on confidence and conversations with other creatives later). I wrote sometimes I get discouraged or find things hard because a project feels too big for me to handle. And then I thought about that.
Havoc’s Moon, my work in progress, feels too big for me to handle.
In a way, that’s kinda cool. I feel like I just got a positive diagnosis or something because I’ve identified something I can work with.
I’m not going to shorten my book. One of the things that made writing Past Life, my sci-fi novella, fun was its smallness. So I just need to figure out how to translate that into a longer thing.
I’ve got way more characters in The Slaughter Chronicles and many plot lines. Whenever I think about my story I feel like I’m looking at a huge world map, my scope is so wide I can’t see any of the topography clearly.
So now I’m going to work on zooming in.
Now I only write numbers.
05 line the 26 day line 2018
My initials are not letters but curves in the road, a roundabout, a punctuated swirl.
I never write my initials the same way twice
But the lab techs and quality know every time it’s me because they
I don’t know what they write I do know
I don’t write words anymore, only numbers
10 line 04 line 2017 JH
And so on
And so on
With ballpoint pen
I used to hate writing with ballpoints but you can get used to anything if you do it long enough curls in the road like a ribbon, a strand of hair, a stray thought that begins where you are and takes you where you want to be with who you want to be with but if you lose focus you have to error correct and then there are more numbers and more lines
The physical physicality of writing
So I’ve got some wasps trying to make a home behind the aluminum siding next to my front door. I was standing on my balcony zoning out after the storm and one of the wasps flew straight at me. Usually I move and make my slightly disturbed distress noise but because my brain has been in a fog all day I didn’t really register that the wasp was there. When I didn’t move right away it hovered in the air about a foot in front of my face and made this little loop in the air. I, finally realizing that there was indeed a wasp at face level, moved over a little to the right and said, “sorry.” The wasp then flew through the empty space and into the gap between my door and the siding. I think the only reason I didn’t get stung was because it had a mouth full of food or construction material for its house.
For some reason we were talking about directions first thing in the morning, literal directions and written instructions.
Me: wow thanks for making sure the left and right side of my brain are working.
Mr. J.: Yes because that’s how you know to take a left instead of two rights.
Me: Two rights EQUAL a left so fuck off!
Mr. J.: No they don’t…(dramatic pause)…It’s three rights make a left.
Me: fuck off
Mr. J: wow you really learned a lot from those gen ed classes in college