“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon
I write to give myself strength. That’s what caught my attention when I first read this quote, because seriously, how many of us put our characters in situations only to see them get out of it the same way we would? We tell people that we’re giving the story meaning or we’re making it more realistic, when in all honesty we’re just living vicariously through our imagination. Of course, that’s never a bad thing. We have to add passion and depth to our craft; otherwise, we would never move anyone. And that’s really what art and writing is all about. You can’t just show them the meaning or tell them about it. You have to move them. You have to make them feel what you’re trying to express. Take “Starry Night” by Van Gogh. Very rarely you get an art critic that says, “I liked the pretty colors.” No, you get responses such as “you can see the movement of the wind in the paint.” That captured moment is what separates the good from the classic.
I write to be the characters that I am not. I am guilty as charged, except in “Gaslight Row.” That would totally be me if I were in a haunted house. Hell, I wouldn’t have made it past the front door. But in my other stories, the strong female characters who are neither damsel in distress nor tomboy but just a strong personality type is exactly what I would want to be. All writers strive to bring out the best in their characters, and the only way to do that is by bringing out the best potential in ourselves.
I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. If Edgar Allan Poe never dared to explore the dark side of his heart, we’d never have the classic poem “The Raven.” And if he had never dared to explore and embrace the heartache he experienced, we never would have had the beautiful “Annabel Lee.” Personally, there are concepts I’ve written about that I never thought I’d write. For being the chicken that I am, I never thought I’d be the one to write “Gaslight Row” or the colonial horror story I had started last Halloween (and haven’t gone back to since it creeped me out). I never thought I’d write such violence like I have for the upcoming novel I’m finishing. I’ve got more blood seeping through those pages than “Speakeasy”…and that’s saying something. But I’m glad I dared to jump outside of my comfort zone. Testing the waters is what makes writing so rewarding.
So in summary, keep up the writing, friends! The only person who can write your story is you.