“If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury.

Mr. Bradbury has a point.  I could go on at length about all of the reasons why I write, but in the end it does boil down to this:  writing is my sanity.  It makes the world go away, at last for awhile.  It is a repository for unacceptable emotions and improbable dreams.  It is a way to make sense of a reality that appears, at times, to be completely bizarre and unpredictable.

When life gets busy and I go for a stretch of a few days without writing, I feel it creeping up on me: depression, irritability, a feeling that my life and I are both purposeless and exist only as a plaything for the fates.  An hour or two of solid writing time is better therapy for this sensation than a day of leisure.   Not that I have total control of my novels, of course – the characters have minds of their own, and plots are tricky, shape shifting beasties with multiple tentacles and an inborn perversity.  But there is something completely fulfilling in the process of taming a plot line or allowing a character to come alive on the page, something that follows me out into my every day world when I leave the computer or notebook behind me.

One of my characters is my altar ego, I’ve just realized.  When she popped fully formed into my head I didn’t question where she came from, I just knew immediately that I recognized her from somewhere.  On the surface, she is not much like me:  I am overly concerned with what people think.  I tend to consider it my job, even when I know better, to see that everybody else is happy, that their needs are met, that they have the opportunity to grow and change, often at my own expense.  I avoid confrontation.  But in the back of my head dwells a wicked little running commentary.  Those who know me well are aware of this, because it does tend to find chinks in my armor and make its devious little self known to the world.  One insightful friend called it my secret weapon.

This voice now has a name and a physical expression in the universe.

Yates Jefferson Baker doesn’t give a damn what other people think of her, and she certainly doesn’t spend much time on introspection.  Often abrasive, at time outrageous, this woman gets things done.  In fact, she kicks ass on a regular basis.  Heck, maybe I could take some lessons from her.  I suspect that many of my characters are aspects of myself or other people I either love or hate.  

I’m curious about the rest of you:  where do your characters come from?  Do they pop into your head, complete, or do you go through the process of creating character profiles?  And just for fun, how about sharing your favorite character out of your own writing?  

As always, keep your fingers moving, and may your muses be kind.

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