The novel-in-progress is rolling along and the further I get into the first draft, the more I see just how far outside my personal comfort zone I’m getting. My characters are NOT me! Not only is the protagonist much younger and braver than I am now (or ever was), she approaches life with an obvious determination that can alienate, or attract, other characters.
When I was her age, I kept my ambitious side under wraps. It would leak out at odd times, so I’d go from painfully shy to auditioning for the school play in high school or participating in poetry readings in college.
Wendy, the character, is straight ahead sure-of-herself and doesn’t let anyone—not even her love interest—divert her from her goals. I wonder what kind of writer I’d be if I were as brave, certain and determined at 20.
As for the rest of the ‘cast of characters’ they are not me, either.
Yes, plenty of them are art-obsessed New Yorkers (the mystery takes place in and around the art scene), but they are ‘players’ while I’m more of a casual visitor, nibbling on the leftover bits after the big dogs have eaten. I go to the shows, I’m even a member of several museums, I’ve taken classes, attended lectures, even studied art history in college, but I’m an outsider in their world.
Right now, I’m helping my mom sell some of my late father’s art collection and the experience of dealing with galleries, auction houses and various experts, helps me add realistic color to the story. It’s dipping my toe into a world inhabited by wealthy art collectors and ambitious consultants, but not diving in.
My characters are diving in because it is their natural habitat. It’s fun to join them while I’m writing, but it’s not always comfy cozy. Any other writers have similar experiences?