Learning from experience

Well, it seems we had a bevy of writers all get together to defend the ones who claim their characters take over and write books for themselves, doing and saying completely foreign, unforeseen things while dragging the author along as a transcriber. Some, like my bud Sherri and Bryce, had explanations for the behavior while others offered the “just because it hasn’t happened for you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist” apologetic.

I find both sides interesting. I find it interesting that so many are willing to defend the writers who claim they have no control over their work. I find writers who say such things either falsifying, exaggerative or psychotic, wherein a break between reality and fantasy in the neural synapses has failed and the writer can’t see what’s real and what’s not. John Nash comes to mind here, I suppose, though he’s a mathematician and not a writer (I believe).

Still, it’s a great example of how no two writers say the same things about the writing process. Maybe it’s because creativity is an individual thing and each of us has a method of our own to put on it. We all have our ways that “work” for us, and while many others have experienced, or claim to have experienced, a separation of reality for the characters they create, I myself cannot either confirm nor deny the existence of such phenomenon.

I won’t try, but I will say I still don’t buy it. I don’t believe a lot of things I hear, and that’s just another one, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. That’s just me. And Lord knows, it could be borne strictly of envy for NOT having had the experience yet. Heh. And like the comments show, plenty of others have, so it’s not a new, or even rare, claim or experience, now is it?

So what’s uniquely yours in the creative process? What’s something you find yourself counting on to create your works of imagination which you’ve not heard anyone else lay claim to? Do you have one?

I don’t. Not that I can identify. Anyone?


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9 thoughts on “Learning from experience

  1. Aren’t all great artist supposed to be crazy? Ha.

    LOL! Touche! No WONDER I struggle so much! I maintained sanity, traded for genius. 😉

    I’ve heard other writers say they think the characters-take-over thing is crap. But I wouldn’t compare it to the Loch Ness monster because the monster if it exists (which I don’t believe it does by the way) would be a physical being. You could touch it. Creativity is abstract.

    Hm. Interesting point. I like that counter-argument. I’ll have to give more depth of thougth to the analogy. Another point for you! 🙂

    I think it is part of the way some people answer the question–where do you get your ideas from? How is it the brain comes up with any creative endeavor? To be honest I’ve thought of this character-take-over thing a bit like people who say they’ve talked to God or something along those lines. I’ve been in the room with people who’ve fallen into trances, had Jesus speak through them, and sworn they’ve spoken to angels. I think these people are kind of nuts, and since I’m not religious, I’m inclined to dismiss them, but your con artists aside, some of these folks clearly believe what they’ve experience.

    NOW we’re onto something. This is VERY intriguing as a comparison of experiences.

    And if they’re not asking for my money, what does it cost me to say, “Well okay. Maybe it is possible.” Anyway, some neuroscientists have studied the brain and where they think the ability to have faith comes from. It is like there is part of the brain that allows a person to believe in God or some higher power. A few people are missing this part of the brain.

    I know a lot of people of faith AND not who are missing part of their brains … the big frontal lobe part, I’m convinced.

    I don’t know. The brain is complicated. Creativity is strange. Then again, maybe saying your characters take over is a way to avoid responsibility for what your characters do. “See, Mom. I didn’t have those terrible ideas! My character did it!”

    And that’s another brilliant thought. “My story sucked? Well, it’s not MY story, really. My characters did it themselves. I didn’t want that.”

    • It is late so I may have misread part of your reply, but I did mean that it is the non-believers who are missing a particular part of the brain. Or rather that when talking about faith, believers have a certain part of the brain light up. Nonbelievers do not. So this must mean that your brain outshines mine!

      LOL! I wasn’t talking about either of us sweetie. I just meant I’ve met both believers AND non-believers who could use a big ol’ frontal lobe transplant. But I’m probably one of ’em. 😉

      Anyway, good discussion.

      I’m glad you chimed in. It’s been very enlightening and interesting. 🙂

      • Just another thought. When you watch a movie or read a book, do you ever get lost in the story? So far we’ve talked about the writer, but I was wondering if this related to the viewer or reader. For instance, when I watch a movie, I KNOW it is a movie and not real and all that, but I still cry, worry, or feel happiness for the characters. I can still get angry at an injustice against a fictional person. And I can’t do this as easily as when I was a kid, but when I’m reading something really good, I lose track of time and often don’t hear people talking to me. I tune out the world and on one level forget the story isn’t real. It is one reason I can’t watch much horror. Even though I tell myself that it is just a movie, part of me responds as if it real anyway. I’ve been frightened enough by a scene to actually start shaking.

        Wow, that’s pretty involved. No, I have a very hard time suspending disbelief at all. With books, somehow it’s easier, and I think that’s true because of how the left and right brains work, and the speed of their operations. But I never fail to recognize it’s a book, not happening, not something immediate. With movies, despite the images hurling at us at the speed of light, I only suspend disbelief for cartoons. Go figure.

        And NOW I’m wondering if THAT’s the problem I’m having.

        I realize that may sound ridiculous, but there you go. So, I’m wondering if there is any similarity in personality or whatever you might call it between the way we feel when we write and the way we feel when we read.

        That is a VERY good thought.

        Also, a final (maybe!) thought. Of the writers who say their characters take over–are these mostly men or women? Young or old? A particular genre? I was wondering if a particular was more likely to make the claim. But maybe not.

        Most of them were women, broad age range. Never heard a guy writer say this, now that you mention it. Most of the writers I know, however, are women and it might be that alone which makes my experience thus.

  2. Guess I should have left today’s comment on today’s post instead of yesterday’s. Sorry.

    Comment whenever, wherever and however often you like, darlin’. You’re always welcome here. 🙂

    Marta has a good point about faith and the brain. It makes sense that the faith part of the brain could be in charge of making your characters seem real. They’re both completely abstract, creative thought based only in each individual’s brain. A completely subjective experience.

    Interesting. As a Christian, I have to refrain from commenting theologically here. As a writer, I’m hearing the idea and it has a comparative merit.

    Wouldn’t it make sense that a person with a well-developed connection with the right brain (in charge of the abstract), as well as trust in that connection, might have this experience, while a left-brain person can’t even conceive it? Does it have to be bullshit? In the other comment I said I thought the folks making the character-control claim don’t mean they have no control over their bodies nor any knowledge of what’s happening.

    I know, and I don’t believe they’re talking about a “possession” by the character either. But they do say crap like “I had NO idea the character was going to say that!” or “I had NO idea the story was going that way, but the characters wanted it to even though I wanted something else!” While it’s not as exaggerated as the idea of possession by a fictional being, it’s almost that bad, frankly, and the idea smacks of make-believe. TO ME, let me emphasize. TO ME. 🙂

    I’m not saying a character took control of me, so please don’t put me in your huge “lock-em-up” category. lol

    LOL! NEVAH! I promise. 🙂

    I’ve been really thinking about this. 🙂

    You have, and the insights you’ve offered from that thought process are pretty cool. Thank you, dearest.

    • I hope you don’t think that because I said faith is an abstract phenomenon that I meant it’s an imaginary one. Not the same. I have faith.

      No, but theologically I can defend the personhood of my God as opposed to an abstract idea or phenomenon; it’s like having a belief in YOU as opposed to a belief in, say, J. K. Rowling — or Rudyard Kipling, I guess, wherein it can ONLY be faith in that I will never see/meet him. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but I know you, have talked with you, have interacted with you and KNOW you exist and are real. Rowling, not so much. 🙂 That’s all I meant when I said that.

  3. I’m not sure this is just me, but I always get to a point in my novels where nothing happens. Inspiration dries up and I’m left in a panic as to where to go next. Even when I do know where I want to go, I can’t figure out how to get there.

    Ah, the hazards of pantsing! I had a novel go this way on me when I had an OUTLINE I worked from, so don’t feel bad. 🙂

    Then, inevitably, when I’m about to have a melt down, inspirations strikes again and I wonder why I always succumb to panic. 😀

    Hehehe. We all have out little moments, don’t we? Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!

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