A Trust Exercise – Writers as Characters

I’ve been sat at this desk for hours now, trying to get myself to write or edit something.

Why is that? I could be doing all sorts of other things.

I could be sat playing video games. The console’s only downstairs. Nobody would know. As far as the outside world would know I’d still be working.

I could go out; explore and get out of my little bubble a bit. Perhaps try something new. Have a chat with a stranger. Anything.

Yet I’m still sat here, trying to force myself to work.

Maybe it’s out of habit. Maybe I’m lying to myself. I could be deluding myself that I’m a writer. Would I ever know if I was?

“Professional seat warmer” doesn’t have the same ring.

You see, I’m long past the hassles of writer’s block or worrying about not being able to come up with something. Sometimes I’ll be a little light on inspiration. So what? It’s normal. I won’t get hung up on it. I won’t worry about it; the words will come sooner or later.

I just have to be patient.

What’s bugging me is the blind insistence on sitting at my desk, waiting. Sometimes I’ll try to force it, and come up with another story. Again. Just start typing and see what happens.

Sometimes I’ll try to force it, and come up with another story. Again. Just start typing and see what happens.

But for the most part I’ll just sit here, not even trying to capture lightning in bottle anymore. Not even trying full stop, if I’m being honest. I’m just waiting.

The blog was, meant to motivate me. A self-imposed deadline. A reason to “work” each week.

But when you write, when the ideas start to run dry, you sick with what you know. And if you only know writing, things get a little… Meta. Perhaps I could even get to the stage where the stories in the posts aren’t even stories

You get to the stage where the stories in the posts aren’t even stories anymore. The characters are writers; more “you” than all the countless other characters that adopt parts of your personality.

And watching them sit there, waiting for a story to pop up is terrifying. Not because they are wasting time, necessarily, but because you know what they could achieve if they just put their mind to it and worked.

Then, I suppose that’s what makes it personal. A character examination that actually has a huge part of a real person in it must be revealing.

Surely that would be an insightful read. Right?

Something stirs, a thought starts to snowball and grow.

But it hits a bump. Depending how you dress it up, how would readers ever know what was a character study or what was the writer themselves talking?

Following that, writing a character study of a character who is themselves a writer suddenly becomes… Big. A strange, scary and intensely personal thing, potentially. Besides, it is a chance to venting frustrations about the form from a safe distance by vaguely dressing it up as if it were the musings of a fictional being.

So there’s a trust thing there.

I stop typing.

Obviously, you need trust. It’s a blog where people want a story. Fiction. People expect a bit of escapism. You can’t put what’s real, even if you are vaguely disguising it. It’s an abuse of that trust, surely.

And you certainly can’t just suggest the idea that perhaps some of the things in those about writers stories are real. Not when you dress it all up as fiction. You certainly can’t put that seed of doubt in place and then leave it.

I briefly think about putting in a line asking if fiction rooted in fact is different to fact rooted in fiction. But I think better of it; it sounds good, but I’m not convinced it makes sense.

I want to type more, but something stops me.

Surely you can’t just say that writers writing about characters writing will always contain a grain of truth.

People have to know where the fiction starts and the writer’s real voice end, right? There’s got to be a divide, otherwise what’s the point? What’s to say all those insecurities, cries for help or whatever are real? Suddenly, your stories look like some horrifying cry for help that even you didn’t know you were putting out.

My head hurts and I step away from the desk.

The whole concept, in the blink of an eye, gets too big.

It was the literal and figurative step back I needed. I realise that there needs to be a divide for my own sanity’s sake, not the reader’s.

You can’t cut too close to the line between fact and fiction like that. You can’t put that seed of doubt – that what they’re reading is fact, not fiction – in place and then leave it. Readers might be misled; I might go nuts.

You definitely can’t then go one further and suggest the idea but then end it without clearly setting the boundary. If the piece is about writing about writers and blurring fact and fiction, you can’t leave the audience without ever really making it clear if what they just read was a monologue from a character or the writer. It’s a bit of a dick move.

People would probably think you’re going nuts. Or disappearing up your own arse.

No, you can’t just suggest all that and then leave it unresolved.

That would be wrong.

I start typing.

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