Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hear the call. Write it down and set it free.

When I was six -and probably the same height I am now being tiny - I had a friend who was called Charlie and we had lots of adventures together.

Charlie ate dinner with me, sat on the swing beside me as we kicked our legs and tried to reach the sky. He comforted me when I had bad dreams and read books with me. Yup, Charlie was my closest friend and the best thing about him was that only I could see him.

Yes, Charlie was my imaginary friend, and he was a mouse.

So why am I talking about Charlie? Because Charlie was my first fully formed character. I knew what he looked like (brown with black whiskers). Where he lived (the skirting board under my bed). His family (mum, dad, twenty-five siblings) and his likes and dislikes (liked cheese, hated sprouts which, funny enough, so did I).

He had backstory, flaws and things he did that I told him off for. But I didn't write him down, he existed for me alone. When you are six-years-old you are selfish like that ;)

So I come to my point.

I guess our wip are like that. The idea comes to us, the voice that whispers to us and begs their story to be told. Eventually it screams so loudly we have to obey. We begin and write our first drafts.

We share their journey, hopes and fears, and we know their flaws better than anyone. As writers we hold them close and share them with only a few until the day we feel ready to send them on their way to an agent and, hopefully, a world of readers who will love them like we do.

That spark of character building is always there as children. It is in the games we play, the truths we bend so we don't get into trouble ("It wasn't me, it was....."). As adults sometimes we forget the innocence of childhood and the stories that flow like water through us.

The task as an aspiring author is to catch those sparks, craft them and share them. Because only by being read do characters really live.

'Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by torch light beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in the world.... Once someone started the read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read.'
The Book Of Lost Things, John Connolly.

And Charlie? One day Charlie left. I was sad but it was the right thing for him to do. He met a nice lady mouse, and they got married and had babies. He never calls, he never writes but - wherever he is - I hope he is happy.


MissV said...

I had an imaginary boyfriend when I was 9 or 10. Steven. My brother thought he was real. hahaha. So began the thrill of being able to sucker people into believing in my creations!

I'm hoping that wasn't Charlie that snuck into my house last November...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I had an imagery horse friend. She was the closest I ever came to owning a horse. :)

Matthew Rush said...

What a fun example of your first character, thanks for sharing Lindsay!

You make a great point about remembering and staying connected to that inner child that first loved telling stories.

Today's guest blogger is Michelle McLean!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I love your Charlie story. If you ever miss him, you can come hang out at my place (I'm sure many of his relatives are here).

Your right though, stories deserve to be read by others.

Palindrome said...

I had an imaginary agent. I didn't know at the time what he was an agent of, just me. He represented me and my awesomeness...thats all I knew and his name was Billy. If I actually get an agent named Billy...well then, I might be just a little bit psychic. :P

Talli Roland said...

I'm sure wherever he is, he's happy. He's probably got a beer belly by now, anyway!

I've never thought of imaginary friends as characters, but you're right. Thanks for sharing!

Kirk said...

Hehe - love your thoughts about your friend. Honestly, I can't ever remembering having one. Something to ask me mum about!

But I found a way to tap into that creativity of youth - children. My daughter - unknowningly - has added much to my story. (e.g. Emily's dream scene)

Thanks for posting.

Jen said...

I'm sure Charlie is happy wherever he is!

I have to say this was the sweetest thing I've ever read... adorable and creative.

Lindsay I love visiting your blog... you're fantastic!!!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

MissV. Imaginary boyfriend, haha. Love the fact that you got your brother to believe he was real.P.S, if it was Charlie, he likes mature red cheese. Just in case he visits again;)

Stina. Aww. I always wanted a horse too ;)

Matthew. Glad you liked the post. I think the power of stories is that they are told otherwise they are just words.

Jaydee. lol.

Palindrome. haha. Love the imaginary agent. Are there any called Billy? Hmm, research :)

Talli. lol. I bet he has got a beer belly, he always was greedy.

Kirk. I bet you did have an imaginary friend. I love the fact that your daughter added to your story.

Jen, Aww thanks. I hope he is happy too. If not I think he visits Jaydee and MissV :)

Deb Salisbury said...

Brilliant post! I had a younger sister, so I had a live "doll" rather than an imaginary friend. I did make up stories for my stuffed animals, though.

Ee Leen Lee said...

hmm I found it rather poignant about Charlie

but he's around somewhere, for sure