Should I keep my characters at a distance? | Laxmi Hariharan

Should I keep my characters at a distance?

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May 24, 2015
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Should I keep my characters at a distance?

When I write more blog posts than prose for my next novel, I know it’s my way of taking a breather before plunging into the guts of my next book. It also normally means this is the time I question a lot of fundamental things.
Like why I write and lay my soul out bare and then cringe when people trample over it.
It’s your fault little girl for trusting the world with your innermost feelings.
But have I?
Have I really shared everything? Have I really let my characters feel, and exposed their inner life? Have I allowed them to hurt, and feel the joys and the sorrows? Have I let the world in enough to trample over theirfeelings?
I admire Hollywood stars and characters in soap operas because they don’t hesitate to experiment with their own lives. They fall in and out of love, have children, get divorced, travel, live in a trailer if they want, work out, lose weight and then put it all back on. They seem to live life with a zest that I can only marvel at.
I know, because I am not that way.
A friend told me I always wait for the other person to approach me before I make a friendly overture. I realise it’s true. I am cautious, closed. I don’t let people in. I don’t trust easily.
And now I wonder if my characters too are the same. They go through plots filled with actions and thrills … An easy distraction from the inner turmoil.
As they go through their outer hero’s journey, I must lay bare their inner one too. Cut into them and pull out their guts. Then, share that.
Maybe I don’t need to feel them or for them anymore. Perhaps what I need to do is actually take a step back. Look at them dispassionately. So I can let them fall, and hurt and commit the same mistakes over and over again. Maintain my distance, as they bleed inside and finally whisper their secrets.  Maybe I need to share more of their emotions so I can spare my own from being trampled on.

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