"The character of me."

From the episode, Contents Unknown, the last act relates the story of a man who, because he got a horrible illness and some bad medicine, he lost his memory.


Act Three. The Answer To The Riddle Is Me.

On October 13, 2002, David MacLean woke up in India with no memory of who he was or how he got there. He had no choice but to let the people who recognized him—and even strangers—fill in his identity. David co-directs the Poison Pen Reading Series in Houston. He is working on a book about the experience of losing his memory. (20 minutes) 

We are all writing the story of our lives as we live it. We edit memories, revise the past, crop and dodge those areas that are too stark and painful. I look in the mirror now and through my mind’s eyes expect someone different – but there I am. Now.

The holidays are past for this season. Ground-hog’s Day doesn’t count, but oh, is its timing perfect. Collectively, seasonally, we must feel this repeatable urge for diminished shadows and spring…spring…spring…something to jump out, be brave, and stay.

And with groundhogs, and their repeatable patterns, I have this question popping up and finding its shadow:

My current creative burning question is: How do writers write? How do they create narratives that are not them? This omniscient, omnipotent ego must be essential for writers to bravely spring characters and narratives that are independent and separate: break them free from their own internal dialogue, narratives, relationships, etc. Is this what actors and actress do when they are in character? Is this why they sometimes (!) have trouble maintaining personal relationships, or do they feel they always have to be “on?”

It is this: writing independently of one’s own ego takes maturity and responsibility. And more importantly: No Apologies.

Adolescent students are often shocked at the epiphany that most writers are NOT their characters in disguise; this is probably due to the fact that students are in the flux of creating their personas, and  cannot imagine that a writer would not BE the character(s) they are creating.

This is not to say that writers don’t genuinly love the characters they create. They have a relationship with them, and explore this third life. If you ever doubt that there are other dimensions and vortexes out there, spend some time developing a character whose life story is far different from your own experiences. You will fall down a groundhog hole.