Part Two in the D/A Dialogues Origin Story – in response to the WordPress Weekly Challenge: Reflections.
A: What is a character’s true origin story? Is it their personal history, or is it the story of how they came to reside in an author’s imagination?
A: Okay, which one would you prefer to tell?
D: I think, actually, it would be a better if we told the people how I came to live in your head, first. It started with that bookshelf you so lovingly carted across the sea.
A: Indeed it did. Take it away, D.
D: What A didn’t tell you was that she continued to write while she lived in Ireland. When she left university, and became a pub’s writer and web designer-in-residence, she dug out that dusty old manuscript and started editing it again. She even showed it to someone to read. He’s the one that introduced her to me. He’s A’s ex-husband, and he lives back across that sea. The Boy and I are all that remains of his time in our lives.
That was the first moment to define my life as a character – that introduction. A knew I belonged to the story. I can’t tell you much about that time in his head. I was a different man. I was angry – more warrior than mystic. I was proud, yes, and skilled, but young.
A: You were also blonde.
D: I was?
A: Yeah. I read my original notes. Blonde warrior. Blue eyes. Tattoos. You were cold and cruel, too – with a massive chip on your shoulder. No wonder I didn’t like you.
D: Which brings me to the second moment that defined me as a character: being ‘gifted’ to a writer who may have appreciated me (for all her whinging, she did appreciate me, otherwise I would never have gotten anywhere near her precious manuscript), but did not understand me. To make matters worse, despite not particularly liking me, she stuck me in the book without really trying to find out how I fit. Yes, it was my story but there were certain things . . . missing.
Much of Changelings is not about the youth I had been – I had already been tempered by war and heartache by the time I step out onto the stage. As much as Changelings is an adventure story – a romp through time, as it were – it’s also about living with past mistakes, and creating a future worth living.
As A’s notes indicate, the me she met originally was not suited for that tale. She had to find out who I really was, and as life got in her way, she did not have much incentive to do so.
When she discovered the religious and political strife of seventh century England and Scotland – when she re-discovered many of the myths that were echoed in her work – she started to find me. Not only that, she wanted to find me. It was quiet, that desire, but it was there.
The final moment of my origin came relatively recently. I had existed rather quietly, I think, in A’s head for all those years. She never talks about the first-person narrative book she wrote – my book. It may not have gone past 100 pages, but she did write it. I won’t say she failed – she just wasn’t ready yet.
Then I started bugging her friends to make her start writing again—
A: True story – had a friend call me up and tell me she was dreaming about D, and perhaps I should start writing again? That was 4 years ago. I’m stubborn.
D: So am I. My persistence was rewarded, and though she didn’t write anything of note until last year, bugging her friends resulted in a redraft of the book outline. She revisited what she had written in my book and brought those elements into the story. I finally had a place – a real place.
Of course, A is still learning – we’ve hit a roadblock on some of the timelines for the sequel, but we’re working on it. We can do that now – thanks in part, to this blog. It’s ever so helpful to be able to snark at her in public. Cathartic too. Plus, she has the support of other writers. Without you, she’d be a hermit. And I don’t think a hermit would be as willing to get my life out onto the page.
A: Well, gee, D. That was pretty complimentary. Kind, almost.
D: I know. I’m not such a bad Druid after all, am I?
A: I suppose not.
D: In fact, I think I’m pretty spectacular.
A: I was going to say, just don’t let it go to your head, but I can see it’s already too late for that.
D: Go to my head? Whatever do you mean, woman?
A: Exactly – watch it, or I’ll make you blonde again.
D: You wouldn’t dare!
A: And I think that wraps up the origin story of a character–
D: A, we are not done here – promise me you won’t make me blonde!
A: Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exploration of D’s origin as a man. Have a great day–
D: A! Are you listening to me?
A: And thanks for reading!