I should probably start by saying that I really don’t know what I think of the title, I just wanted something that kind of made sense and sounded like an alliteration even if it doesn’t look like one. It works, I’ve been philosophical today, considering what I’m going to post, etc. Eh, oh well.
Last week, and by last week I mean Tuesday of this past week, I had a thought and started writing between classes. No mornings before I get to school, no evenings after class was done. Just between classes. I’m six and a half pages in. I wanted to see where the story would go. What would happen to my characters. And I’m realizing more and more that I’m basing the main character a bit off myself. Which is nice because I know what she’s thinking, but difficult because I don’t know where my story is going.
I guess I have to start by describing how I came to imagine this story.
Since I was young, I’ve used stories as a coping mechanism. For a while I just read books all the time. Literary worlds are safer than my own for my mind. Or at least they were. But then I would read a story and feel like it shouldn’t have ended there. Or I think that I would have had a different response to the scenario than the character did. So I would imagine what that would be like. I would close my book, turn off the light, and use my imagination. Maybe I wouldn’t forgive the guy for being such a jerk. Or maybe I would go after the best friend who had run away. Maybe I’d try and save another character instead of crying over their life-threatening injury. I would put myself in the shoes of one of the characters and just imagine how the story would change. And I’d usually continue to imagine until I fell asleep. Eventually I began doing this with movies. I’d finish a movie and imagine how I might have acted and how the other characters would react to my actions. It gave me a safer, easier place to think out my emotions to the books or movies. Then I let it get more complicated. I would begin simply using the characters and a situation to express my own emotions. When you’re talking to an imaginary character it is much easier to be candid as to how you feel. If you make them up, they can only have the reaction that you want.
For a while that was helpful. It allowed me to express frustration and it really helped to identify misplaced frustration. It was a tool for me to use to get to the root of a problem. I could easily identify what I felt and think through it so that in the real world outside my mind, I could respond appropriately and rationally.
Then I started to use my own situations, still other characters, but my own situations. If someone was rude to me at work, my story would be based around someone being rude to me at work. That was also helpful. Until I started replacing the response of the characters from what I wanted them to say or do with what the people in my life would say or do. It became a way not to comfort myself like it had been, but to understand what was occurring from an peripheral position. But I would usually fall asleep as I worked through the situation so it was okay.
With this story that I’m writing now though, the one that is actually going down on paper, I don’t know how to write it. My main character has my flaws, my thoughts, my anxiety, my health issues. But she’s more of who I want to be. She’s a little tougher, a little fiercer, a little more independent, a little healthier. But she has my thoughts and anxieties and processes things like I do. And that’s been helpful. I’ve finally gotten into her questioning why people keep treating her the way they do and why she responds how she does. But I don’t know how to keep going once I get through that portion.
I guess I don’t know how to continue the story because what I want to write, I don’t know if that’ll be true for her. There are a lot of methods of dealing with anxiety that I’ve tried that don’t seem to work. Why would they be any different for my character? I can’t make things easier for her because they aren’t easy for me. I can’t write what I don’t know. And this pushed me to thinking about a lot of different things.
I’m going to school for neuroscience and eventually (hopefully) medical school. I wanted to join the military as a physician. Problem is, with all my health issues, I’m not deployable, so I most likely could not be a military doctor. I finally finished all my research and realized this in the past week or so. Which is okay, I can work with veterans and still do what I want to do. But realizing that there are more and more things that you can’t do is difficult. Because of chronic health issues, I can’t go into any field that requires you to be in perfect health or stuff like that. Which still leaves a lot of things that I could do, but also a lot of things that I don’t want to. That’s one thing my character and I don’t have in common, she’s a government field agent and I probably never could be. Which, again, is okay. But having those realizations makes it difficult to plan the next stages of your life.
This story, which started as way for me to express my frustration in a place no one would see/know what I was talking about, has turned into a deeper self-exploration/reflection than I intended. And I’m not sure what I think about what I’m finding. I thought I knew myself, but maybe I wasn’t as correct as I thought.