We’ve talked a lot about the things we collect here this month (who knew we collected so much?). Recently, I realized, that as a writer, I collect something else.
I collect characters.
This realization came through Facebook exchange on my author page. I posted about my new project, a story that makes use of a new set of characters. In the post, I said, “I hope Jim and Sally don’t get too jealous and stop talking to me.” Because that would be kind of bad (and yes, if you’re a writer, you totally get the concept of imaginary people talking to you and you understand it completely; if you aren’t a writer, I would like to take this opportunity to say I am okay, and you don’t need to call the guys with padded rooms and jackets that snap in the back).
A reader responded, “New characters? Isn’t it getting a little crowded in there?” My head, she meant.
See, I share head space with a lot of people, as I write two different series and now this third book (which, hey, might become a series – I’ve been told they are series-worthy characters). I am currently offering room and board to the following:
- Jaycee/Lyla, Stu, Roger, and Starla, the crew of the Hero’s Sword series;
- Jim, Sally and their friends (such as deputy coroner Tom Burns) from The Laurel Highlands Mysteries;
- Jackson and Max, the characters for the new book.
That’s a lot of people. Thankfully, they don’t eat much.
People ask me, how do you keep them all straight? Honestly, it’s not that hard. They all have different voices. Jaycee, as a 13-year old girl, talks much differently than Sally, a professional woman in her early 30s. Jim, my Pennsylvania State Trooper, sounds a lot different from Jackson, my Niagara Falls homicide detective.
They have different stories and different ways of telling their stories. So it’s fairly easy to keep them straight. That’s not the problem.
The problem is when all of them want to talk at the same time.
Some writers can work multiple projects at a time. Me, not so much. My attention gets fractured. I can’t give each person the care and dedication that he/she deserves. Their voices get muddled and it’s harder to hear them. Although, when one of them has something to say, well, he or she can get pretty loud.
It makes me sound a little schizophrenic, really, that I’ve got all these voices in my head. But I do. And I love all them like dear friends. I’ll never turn them off with my wardrobe, or my language, or my bad habits – because my habits are their habits. They are not only friends, but each of them reflects a facet of my personality.
Yes, the collection can get a little scattered and frenetic at times. They’re a hard bunch to keep up with. But honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.