Hey everyone, Flobo here! Back from my writer’s retreat and in the middle of Script Frenzy (but haven’t started yet), I figure I drop another post.
We’ve talked about this before, but we are all guilty at some point of basing a character in our works after ourselves. Whether consciously or subconsciously (or unconsciously) our characters tend to act, think, bleed just like us. Obviously this isn’t always a hundred percent true, but then again your audience usually finds the similarities quicker than you do.
“Flobo, you made your main guy ruggedly handsome, smart, and an excellent lover. What gives?”
But this blog post is asking about the opposite. Have you ever tried basing yourself after your characters? Have you ever developed an alter-ego for the page only to fall in love how he/she handled “their business” in that world? Have you ever been a situation and asked yourself, “Man, if so-and-so were here, this would go down differently?”
I offer you up a story. Forgive me for this story not being totally about writing but hey, I’ll try to tie it together at the end.
This past weekend, I participated in the Southern California Warrior Dash. A 3 mile obstacle course, the pièce de résistance was traversing through a mud pit after swimming in fairly cold water to hop over buoy-like obstacles. It was challenging for this guy but not impossible, so I’m more than sure you elite athletes that read these things could do it. Anyway, since I attended the race by my lonesome, I really had no one to banter the nervous energy with. I mean, I could have talked to myself but that would just look odd.
You know, because when I talk to myself, I usually put my bluetooth-headset in my ear so I don’t look super crazy.
But here’s were things got interesting. Instead of being committed to a mental hospital, I pretended as if I was some athlete on a sports television broadcast before, during, and after the race. Have you ever watched an EPSN or a Fox Sports broadcast? During the pregame show people in suits discuss the game of the week, while the camera grabs footage of the star-athlete practicing, signing autographs, taking pictures with fans, or just being in the zone. I pretended that theoretically millions of people where tuning in to see me do my thing.
Unlike most of the races I’ve done, I didn’t bring my iPod (for obvious muddy reasons), so I really didn’t have anything else to go on. Thing is, the “Fake Game Of The Week” method actually worked. There was times out there where I wanted to quit. (The horizontal climb and the aforementioned icy swim comes to mind) I just thought what if Kobe, Ichiro, Tiger, or LD just walked off the field in the middle of the game? There would be no respect given, and (duh!) there would go all of that endorsement money.
The mental game actually became semi-realized. After the race, you were allowed to go back down to the river to wash the mud off. I took off my shirt (Don’t worry, I had another underneath because I didn’t want the ladies to swoon TOO much) and wrung it out in the water, washing off most of the mud. When I got back to the finisher’s village, a lady stopped me and asked if I was willing to donate my racing clothes to charity. Without hesitation, possibly due to elation for finishing and exhaustion for …er…finishing, I gave her my racing shirt. In my head, I heard:
“And there he is, giving his jersey to an appreciative fan. What a class act!”
So often we try to work on the mechanics of writing, that we forget that our imaginations could do so much more. I climbed not one but THREE rope walls that day because I was using the thoughts in my mind as natural fuel. It’s a powerful thing, and it’s one of the beautiful things about writing that is almost impossible to articulate accurately.
Now, will I go home and write a story about an athlete that overcame the odds? No, but no one would fault me if I did. What I learned Saturday was a little deeper than that. How many alter-egos does the average author have? Hmmmmmm.
Until next time, Happy Writings….