Wednesday, January 10, 2007

(Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster)


I was cruising Absolute Write when I stumbled on a post from a writer of serious fiction who was concerned about being the monsters he portrayed in his work. Since you must get into your character's head to write from an authentic perspective, does the act of thinking like a murderer or rapist or sociopath damage you? Is it harmful to you to feel what your characters feel?

I thought about this – I write as a man, a woman, a child; as a murderer, a vampire, a sociopath and an alien; about crime, revenge, horror. Has it harmed me to feel the things they feel, to vicariously commit their acts? Have I come to accept their twisted views in order to write about them, and if so, has this diminished me as a person?

No. I am an actor on paper, a prism through which the light may be bent.

I am connected to the Human Condition by these forays into its dark corners and stomach-churning depths. When I get into the thoughts of a monster, I get in there as a human being. After all, all my stories are concerned primarily with the Human Condition, even if they are about turnip-rooted aliens and space-faring vampires, but especially if they are about the need for revenge or the need to satisfy a compulsion.

I find that writing from the perspective of someone who has been the victim of their own twisted drives or mental imbalances gives me sympathy for how we turn out the monsters among us. As human beings, we know there are those among us who can commit atrocity. As writers, we know we can understand them if we try hard enough and if we need to.

After all, who better can understand compulsion than a writer?


Seared ahi salad at Honolulu Harry's – it was such a pleasure to go out for dinner with my Dear Husband who has been recuperating from hip surgery and unable to venture out until now.

Three engineers at work a few cubicles over discussing lobster and the right way to cook it. Yes, split on a grill, slathered with butter and a lime squeezed over it would be my choice, too.

The house, clean as a whistle when I got home from work – Cesare & Alicia, my housekeepers had returned from Guatemala and made everything beautiful again. I love them – I have known them for 16 years now. I missed them over the holidays. They are my friends.


Bernita said...

"about being the monsters he portrayed in his work"

I always thought this was a dumb concern - unless one really does have leashed stuff in his psyche - in which case, if writing didn't bring it out, something else would.

I like lobster. With butter.Slurp.

Kate Thornton said...

Hah! Bernita! Yes, butter - but I mis-read your "slurp" as "syrup" at first. Might try that, too...

writtenwyrdd said...

Hey, Bernita, we all have leashed stuff in our psyches. Some just have more dirt raked over them.

Me, sometimes I doubt my normalcy.

Lobster? I live in Maine. I can take or leave it. Mostly leave it, because it's too much bloody work to eat the stuff. I'll take the grilled mahi-mahi fresh caught that I used to chomp down on in Hawaii. With lemon. Yum...