Write Like Someone Else

One of the best parts of writing is creating characters, telling their stories and in doing so, pretending to be someone else. It’s like having a second life, completely in your control. One of the worst things about it is everyone who knows you assumes that in some respect, you are revealing aspects of your persona that you cover up in public. When you write melancholy, disfunction or even downright malice into your characters, does that mean that inside you feel that way on some level as well? And why is it that it’s only those darker qualities that people question? Why would someone assume that if I write about a serial killer, that I have murderous tendencies myself? Or in a more realistic scenario, if a write about a character suffering from depression or anxiety, does that mean I am revealing my inner issues too?

The short answer is: of course not! The beauty of writing is being able to step outside yourself and into someone else’s life. To use your imagination in a more than superficial way to feel what it’s like to be another person with a unique perspective and a completely different set of circumstances. When we do that we have to be prepared to go to the dark side. To find those regions of human experience that aren’t pretty or comfortable. Because really that is life these days.

I’ve said this previously: being able to shine a light in dark places in our writing is a good thing. It creates the drama a novel needs. It makes our characters believable and relatable. It gives them depth, dimension. It makes the reader invest in the character, either in hoping for their salvation or their demise. But it doesn’t make the writing a confession. It just makes us better writers.

Image via John Haim

Painting (34) Skellig Islands At Sunset

When you first start painting, you tend to save every attempt. As you improve your skills, you start to reuse canvases with substandard work in order to be thrifty. Sometimes when you reuse a canvas, the texture of the underpainting shows through. That isn’t always so bad, a little texture can enhance a painting. But sometimes, it ends up right in the middle of an otherwise perfect sky… That is unfortunately what happened with this one. Which is a shame because otherwise I think it turned out pretty good. Here are the Skellig Islands at Sunset on a recycled canvas. If you can’t spot the blemish, ignore everything I just said!

Painting (33) Bright Poppies, Dark Field

Poppies have become a favorite subject to paint. I’d love to plant them in my garden [if I’m ever able to get out to a garden center this year] but in the meantime, I can at least adorn my walls with them. It’s said the poppies grew more abundantly on the soil where the soldiers fell on the Western Front during the Great War. So while they are a symbol of remembrance, they also remind us of how the earth heals itself. From the ravished earth springs forth new life. We see how nature is taking a deep breath while we have lowered our impact on it. The air is fresher, the waterways are cleaner and the birds seem to be singing more loudly. A bright spot, if you will, during this dark time. Here are my Bright Poppies in a Dark Field: