A conversation about characters and their demands got me thinking about this issue.
I remember the moment I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had characters that were alive. Characters that did what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted. Characters that demanded my attention, and ignored me, withheld information or allowed me to wander on the wrong path for entirely too long.
Today’s “Blogging University” assignment was to write that original post we wanted to write… or to write a response to the Daily Assignment. In the true style of someone who is used to being able to modify their assignments, create their own majors, and design their own projects, I’d planned (and written) a post all about yesterdays blogging assignment. Which I may post at some other time. But, then this conversation occurred and I realized, that’s what I wanted to write about.
Characters, characters with a life of their own. I’ve talked a little about this but…. here’s something I’ve never shared… I know I have a document somewhere where I started a story like this but, here it is again — in all it’s first-draft goodness. Taking risks by sharing my own envisioning of the reality behind the story’s (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t finish the story.. because… uhm… )
“Really, Hazel, do you really have to push him so much? I’m sure your Uncle just… Wait.” Ray looked around, blinking his eyes a few times to adjust to the change in light, the sudden change of surroundings. The smell of the ocean air lingered, interwoven into his jacket and hair, but the sounds were gone. And Hazel, his best friends sister, was no longer standing in front of him, instead he found himself face to face with a strange assortment of people he did not know.
“Welcome,” A young woman, perhaps his age, maybe a bit younger, stood, giving a slight bow. She carried herself as though she knew that she held importance, and Ray had no doubt that she was royalty, somewhere. But her clothes were unlike anything he had seen, and didn’t fit with any historical era that he had studied. “I am Theral,” she continued, then turned and motioned to the others. “This is Callie, Mikael, Ayrella and Mira. Over there in the corner, the young man with his nose in a book, that is Davon. And the couple ensconced in the window-seat over there are Kierlan and Caltia. And the young woman over there,” she motioned to another girl who was standing quietly by a nearby wall, watching the room quietly, “has yet to tell us her name.” She turned back to smile at Ray.
“Uhm…” he looked around, “I’m Ray… where are we?”
“Waiting,” Theral motioned him to have a seat. “At least, many of us are waiting, I do believe that Kierlan and Caltia are plotting… and Loen and Marchietta have wandered off for a while, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are coming up with some sort of scheme.”
Ray looked at her blankly and Theral smiled at the four other woman sitting near her. One of them reminded him of Hazel somehow — she looked nothing like her, but there was something about her that struck him as very familiar. Ayrella, he recalled her name was, and it was she who spoke.
“You’re in the waiting space,” though she looked to be the same age as the others Ray was shocked when he looked at her, there seemed to be ancient wisdom shining through her eyes. “We’re all waiting… and if you leave this room there are even more. Forgotten, some of them, or just put aside.”
“Or being ignored because she’s being stubborn,” the one introduced as Callie interjected. Her arms were crossed in front of her as she leaned back in the chair, scowling at the sky.
“That’s just because you’re being stubborn too, dear.” The one named Mikael spoke gently, an air of music in her voice. “And, truly, it isn’t too bad, now is it? She has an entire book based on the premise that we never meet, and yet, here we are.”
“If she’d just listen instead of deciding that we’re never going to meet then, perhaps, we would be able to meet without reverting to having to be in this no-mans-land,” Callie grumbled.
“But if you all met,” Mira spoke gently, but again Ray sensed a power in her voice, “then I may never exist.”
The other women all nodded, even Callie seemed to break from her grumbling state to smile at Mira.
“So… what you’re saying is… I’m here because…?” Ray was used to being confused, to hearing about things and seeing things that made no sense to him, but this was something completely different.
“None of us can know for certain,” the gentleman introduced as Davon spoke without looking up from his book, “but…” he hesitated, and then looked up. “I postulate that we are awaiting the attentions of the one who is telling our story.”
Ray was glad he was sitting down.
“Telling our story… like, our creator?” Theorizing about the workings of God had never been his particular interest, but Vincent had sometimes gone off on long-winded explanations of how he understood the workings of the divine.
The five women who had initially greeted him laughed, not an unkind laughter, but one that made Ray feel a little self-conscious.
“Not exactly,” Ayrella spoke kindly, shaking her head, “only, perhaps sort of.”
“You are confusing him more,” Davon countered.
“You aren’t exactly enlightening him either,” Callie put in.
“It’s simple, really,” the unnamed one spoke, taking a step away from the wall and giving Ray a smile. “We all have our stories to tell, our reasons for telling them — even if we don’t know for certain what that reason is. And our stories are being told, by someone… somewhere. They are listening to us… or trying to perhaps. And they are the ones who are, ultimately, deciding what story gets told. Are you understanding me so far?”
“I think maybe is perhaps the best any of us can expect.” She laughed warmly, “all I know is that some people have been here for a long time, waiting, for a very long time,” she motioned to Davon.
“I’d say I’ve been here years, at least…. though occasionally I find myself pulled out of this room to be scrutinized, asked questions, and analyzed. But always about what I can do, how my vision works, not my own story.”
“You’re vision-” Ray began, but Davon shook his head.
“There’s time for questions like that later. No use in chasing flying tangential threads.” He smiled to himself at that, and turned his attention back to his book.
“There are some that have come and gone with fair regularity,” the woman spoke again, this time motioning to the five women seated closest to him.
“Though never all at once,” Ayrella noted, as though that held great importance, “we’re never supposed to all be at the same place at once.” Mikael, Callie, Theral and Mira all exchanged mischievous smiles at this.
“And you?” Ray found himself asking.
“I’m pretty new here, really, I just arrived not too long before yourself — not that it’s easy to tell time,” the woman leaned back again, looking up to the sky again, “I fully expect to be pulled out again — they seem to be focusing on me… well.. my circumstances, and the people around me. I’m not sure they’re fully listening to the story I have to tell though.”