I’m writing a novel, fourth draft now, and one of the characters is based a lot on me. Great thing about writing, you can rewrite. Revisions are rarely allowed in life, but in fiction, it’s fiction.
I don’t find myself the most interesting character, but I’m convenient. On the page, I tend to talk very strangely, coming up with lots of stuff that gets cut by the second draft. In reality, I tend to cut it on the first draft. In reality, I think myself worth listening to, but I’m pretty convinced that no one else does, with the exception of Elizabeth most of the time.
Michael, my newest incarnation, is a technical writer, a born cynic who’s been dragged kicking and screaming into a non-traditional lifestyle—but he’s found that these are the people he’d like to kick and scream with. Somewhat to his chagrin, he’s not the main focus of the novel—the characters are like a pizza that’s divided pretty evenly around the table, and only the cat fails to get its own chapter.
In fact, I’d like to get away from this tight-assed type, who’s appeared in past incarnations as a substitute teacher, a tap-dancing investment broker, an ER physician, an aged farmer, and probably in a dozen comedy sketches, including a weatherman and a recent retiree who’s presented himself with his own retirement plaque. Still, he keeps crawling out from under a rock and into the scenario. I’m not sure why. He’d surely be more comfortable out of the limelight. He’s pretty shy.
But perhaps it’s because of his yearning. Just as the cats meow at their cat gate at dawn, he wants to be seen, and there’s both comedy and drama in his howl. I guess it’s more the comedy that attracts me. I’ve done a lot of sad, grim, obsessive stories because in this world I can’t help it, but I’ve come to realize that comedy is a survival tool. Escapist, maybe, but it gives you a sharper sight of the onrushing ogre and better vision to read the map for an escape route.