March 28, 2011
Well, we did get some writing done this weekend, and I will keep writing all spring break. Thank God for spring break. Writing time has become – spring break and summer.
I’ve been thinking lately about what I believe in as a way of understanding who I should be in the world and as a writer, how important it it is to know this about your characters. How do they make life decisions? How do I?
I had a student one semester who worked for a company that answered phone calls at a 1-900 company. The company was divided into two sections. Half the company was devoted to psychic hotlines and the other half was a sex hotline. When you answered the phone on the sex side, men called and Heather and her pals would talk with the guys while polishing their nails. They would pretend to be having sex with the guys while they just hang out, polish their nails and read magazines.
When they got bored, they would cross to the other side and talk with the women who would call the psychic hotlines. They would tell the women that what they saw in their future, and what they saw was a lover, a great guy coming along, and they saw money in the future for the woman. That’s what they would tell them.
It’s all story telling. You tell the men how excited you are from just talking with him. You tell the women that a man and money are going to come along. I’m not saying all psychics are like this. Just making stuff up, but I don’t believe in psychics myself.
I believe we are creating our own future. And that it’s all story telling. It’s about the story we tell ourselves. The reason for talking to a psychic is to find out what your life path should be and to know what is going on in your life. Some people pray to God to find out what their life path should be.
Some people believe in I-Ching which is a Chinese method of divination. I think that the whole idea of needing some outside force to tell you what to do whether it’s a guru, a church, a psychic hotline, or the I-Ching or a therapist is just a way of avoiding making your own life decisions.
That’s what being a grown up is all about, making your own decisions. Figuring out your life is the work of someone who wants to build character. I don’t think you can put off the work of growing up.
But then there’s the question—what about getting help from someone – I do believe in not doing it all alone. Here’s who I trust with my secrets: My husband, my daughter. Here’s who I trust with my stories—my hairdresser and a few friends. I believe in figuring out my life path with people who really care about me. Once you pay someone to give you advice on your life path, I think that taints the advice.
It’s a good thing to know as a writer—how each character solves their life plan. Do they go to the bar? The church? The hairdresser? Psychics? How does your character figure things out? Good to know if you want to understand who they really are. Understanding your character’s motivations and what makes them tick is everything.