My characters aren't me. (Except when I write fan-fiction. Then the heroine is totally me.)
But, in my professional fiction, the characters aren't me. It's fun to write about someone else, someone entirely made up, and see how real I can make her. I ask myself, "Who would find herself in this situation?" Or, better yet, "In this situation, what sort of person would have the hardest time?" Because that person, of course, would also have the most room to grow.
Still, despite the fact that my characters aren't me, I usually find part-way through a book project that I've ended up giving them problems I'm puzzling through in my own life.
Like now. I'm writing about two people falling in love and trying to avoid being killed at the same time. So not where I am in my own life, right? I'm happily fallen already and, thank God, no one's trying to kill me.
But when I look past the big plot points - the new romance and the murders that are inherent in the genre and that provide the momentum for the story - I find that both my hero and heroine are mulling over what it means to be a real grown-up.
What does it mean when you get past thirty, and you've made your first big mistakes and - more than that - have survived them and become your adult self? what then?
What happens when you're old enough to assess your character because you finally have enough character that it can be assessed?
What does maturity look like when you can't hope to be really mature, really wise, for decades yet, if ever - but you're still a grown-up, and you can't get away from that fact? (And you don't even want to get away from it, because being a grown-up is good.)
What do you do when you are old enough to look back at your younger self and wince at her mistakes, but are too far past those mistakes to really have any chance of fixing them?
When you're old enough to have a real self, and young enough that that real self isn't really mature yet, isn't wise, isn't done? When you've got a good idea of your responsibilities, and and even better idea of your limits? When you know your best isn't going to be enough, but that not giving your best would be unconscionable?
That you are not enough, but that no one else can be you.
When you finally understand that some disasters really are disasters, when you know how you could have prevented the ones in the past, but are just as sure that you won't be able to prevent the ones in the future?
How do you gather yourself together and decide to go on, trusting the Lord, doing your best, knowing you'll fail, knowing that failure isn't going to be a sufficient excuse for giving up?
Yes, apparently I am wondering about all of these things - and finding my answers - and all of it in a story that isn't about me.
Nope, not at all.
Peace of Christ to you,