Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ideas having minds of their own

As my fiction writer friends know, I am fascinated by the claim they make that characters in their stories frequently have 'minds of their own' in terms of what is or isn't going to happen to the character.  Similarly, when a friend of mine told me that ever since she was a kid that she's heard voices in her head, I quizzed her on what these voices sounded like.  Did she mistake them for people who were in the room with her?  Or a radio? 

What does the experience of 'having voices in one's head' or 'characters in stories taking control of the stories' feel like?  (I similarly am intrigued by what it must feel like to feel like someone is one sex trapped in the body of another — and there's some really cool related neuro stuff detailing folks who have never had limbs still having 'phantom' limbs.  But, I have no idea what it feels like to feel like a woman in a woman's body even though I am a woman in a woman's body.  I suppose it's one of those things that one can only feel if one is out of sync (though, sometimes, I do feel like I'm a left-handed person trapped in a right-handed person's body  — hmmm, funny or not taking others experiences seriously?)  .

Anyway, I'm working on an article (and to paraphrase a comic I once read, there's nothing like trying to write something out to really make clear to yourself how truly unclear your thinking is) and the article is turning into something I really hadn't expected it to.  Each time I think I have it back on track, it swings back to the other track (and, yes, I have now given in and am just following where it leads).  But is this what fiction writers are talking about?  If so, it's considerably less interesting and exciting than I was led to believe.  Thus, I will assume that this experience is nothing like what they are experiencing.

1 comment:

GTChristie said...

"But is this what fiction writers are talking about?"

As one who rarely reads fiction but has written it, off and on, all my life: yes, that's what writers mean. The characters "come alive" at some point, but that's a poetic way of saying they have been developed in the author's mind to a point where they have their own "internal logic." At that point, there are certain things they "would" or "must" say and some things they would never say (to remain in character). When this point is reached in writing fiction, the characters take over, and the story "writes itself." The opposite would be, the story falls apart because it doesn't ring true; it doesn't "hang together" because characters and events are "out of character."

In non-fiction work, I've found the same thing. Every time I go on record, stating "position X," I commit myself to defending it (or admitting I was wrong). I find myself including or excluding aspects of my raw intuitions to arrive at a set that can be called consistent. Now, in old age, I am a product of my own mental darwinism. LOL. The thoughts have taken over. I fight this. I am no more reverent about my own positions, than I am about anyone else's.

BTW, I am studying Habermas. He says what I was trying to say 40 years ago & was too green to put into words. I do not agree with everything, but he has the closest picture to "me" I have ever seen. LOL.