Hazards of the
Possessed Obsessed Writer
1. Interrupting conversations. Your friend (or daughter) is enjoying a conversation with you, telling you something important to her or him. Midstream, you interrupt to say:
“I’m writing a new story and I’m really feeling the character. Her name is Abby. She has red hair, because you know red hair is dear to me, and brown eyes, because you know that I like brown eyes. Anyway, I’m not sure why she would show up at the store when she’s can't drive.” (Scenario made up since I can't remember any of the real ones.)
Then you recognize what you’ve done and say, “Oh I didn’t mean to interrupt you. What were you saying?”
2. Moving cars. Your pumping gas and James is on your mind. He's been on your mind a lot lately. No, James isn't a new love interest, but a character in a short story you are writing. In the middle of watching your money fly out of your wallet and into the gas tank, you realize that when James lights something on fire, he uses gasoline to do it. Where did he get the gas? Then your tank is full and (because you don’t use a debit card) you must go inside to pay for your purchase. With James still on your mind, you walk toward the door and in front of a moving pickup truck. The driver slams on his brake. You smile sheepishly, shrug, then hurry to the door. Later you blame it on James, but really you walk in front of cars all.the.time.
3. While shopping, you see the girl, and she’s everything you thought she would be. Fifteenish, red curly hair, pale with bright blue eyes and she’s dressed exactly the right way: cool jeans and a tight t-shirt. It's so perfect you would have thought you picked out her clothing. You glance to see if her mother is what you imagined her to be, but the girl seems to be alone. No, you’re not a kidnapper, you’re a writer. And that girl fits the description of Mona, a main character in your book draft. The Mona double catches you looking. You smile at her, and move on—ever so fast.
4. A friend tells you something confidential and personal. Immediately, you think, I’m using this in a story. Then you look into the loving, trustful eyes of your friend and wonder, is she really that good of a friend? Then you decide (darn it), some things are off base—or are they?
As a writer, do you find yourself doing any of these things? As a reader, do you find that after you finish a book or short story you continue to think about the characters you spent time getting to know?