Fitting in or standing out — are we fictitious characters or our real selves?

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Some time ago there was a poster circulating on Facebook that said, “Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out?” I also have a poster in my office — I’ve mentioned it before — that says, “Be Yourself. An original is always worth more than a copy.”

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The truth of both axioms is obvious, and yet I’m not sure why I relate to them… why it appeals to me to have copies. It has something to do with believing I shouldn’t hide the authentic me behind a barricade.

Years ago I had a friend who understood how I felt. We would joke about how we hid behind brick walls and only occasionally pried a brick or two out so others could peek in for a glimpse. After we moved from that city I seldom saw her, and she’s been gone for many years now. I sometimes wonder if she allowed others beneath her protective surface or if most people missed out on getting to know the real person.

To figure out if anyone actually “gets” me would require understanding myself, and I’m not an introspective kind of person. Still, as an aspiring author, I wonder if my writing will allow readers access to me through my characters. (Scary thought!) Writers are often asked if they base their characters on real people, and it’s supposed to be true that we write a little bit of ourselves into all our protagonists, albeit unconsciously. In getting to know my characters I don’t recognize anything of myself in them, but since I don’t really know myself all that well, is it any surprise?

What do you think? Writer or not, how well do you understand yourself? Could you write yourself into a novel and have readers see the authentic you?

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“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:14-16

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9 thoughts on “Fitting in or standing out — are we fictitious characters or our real selves?

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Most outsiders (other people) are not that interested in who we are. They are too busy trying to discover themselves. That’s why our identity in Christ is so important. Trying to find our identity outside of Christ is an exercise in futility.

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Psalm 139 seems to be the verse for the day. A friend of mine posted it on FB, too.

  3. Sue Harrison says:

    What a thought-provoking question! I love it! If I wrote myself into a novel… No, I don’t think I could portray my true self. I’ve never totally become the person I want to be, and I think I’d fudge or give myself too many excuses, if I actually made myself a protagonist.

  4. cluculzwriter says:

    Why is that such a scary thought? Writing myself into a plot? It’s never occurred to me. I know that’s not good. I’m okay. No brain surgeon, but I’m certainly capable. You know, you’ve latched onto something here, Carol. And it’s rather unsettling. Hmm. Think I’ll go off to my corner and ponder this a bit.

  5. Sharon O says:

    Beautiful roses. Wow… such joy to share.

  6. Darlene says:

    Do we write about ourselves or who we would like to be? That is another question.

  7. Carol says:

    It’s great to get all your feedback today. I suspect some novelists deliberately write their frustrations or vendettas into their stories, even using people they know, barely disguised. Darlene’s question is a good one… do we create stories and characters representing the lives we wish we had? We often read to escape; do we also write to escape?

  8. Katt says:

    Carol,
    I love this…..“Be Yourself. An original is always worth more than a copy.”
    I’ve been “preaching” this for a couple weeks. How very fitting I would read it today! Love your blog…always!

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