Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fictional fervor

So it's a rainy, grey day here in Florida, and I'm sitting at my desk at work, drinking tea, and ostensibly writing a school board budget story. All my calls have been made, and I am picking at it in a desultory fashion, but my head (heart? both?) isn't in it.

Maybe it's just me (or is this a trait many writers -- or we of the overactive imagination -- posses?), but I can see one characteristic of a person, just one, and suddenly there is a character in my head. It doesn't happen all the time, but it did today.

Earlier this week, in editing a columnist's copy, there was a name that struck me as just completely fictional (although this man had lived, and was later killed in WWII). I immediately knew who the made up person was: he was Southern and possibly of French extraction, cultured, living in the early teens or 20s. Names do that to me, too, and I'm forever scrawling down interesting ones to be used for characters later (although I rarely do; finding the scraps of paper with random names on them, sometimes years later, can be amusing...or frustrating, in the "why-didn't-I-do-something-with-that?" vein).

So today, when a new coworker walked down the hall, his manner of walking -- in a loping, somewhat stoop-shouldered gait -- suddenly fit with this person in my head. I was halfway into scrawling a full-blown character study on the closest reporter's notebook -- two and a half pages filled, before I'd even realized it -- how he walked, what he wore (light colored suits, even in winter), the color of his eyes (green); there he was, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

I used to have these sorts of creative writing spurts far more often than I do now, so I feel little guilt for taking the time (besides, my boss has always said she doesn't care if we go to the movies in the middle of the day, provided we turn our copy in on time. And no, she's not kidding). Now I should make sure to do something with it, unlike times before.

And finish the school board story...

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