I can go for days without seeing anyone including the man I married. Yet, I am a person who needs companionship and other people in order to feel energized. Perhaps this is why I write. I started telling myself stories when I was very young. As a child my stories revolved around people taking me to ride a horse or visit the zoo.
As I grew older, my stories reflected my older dreams and experiences. I learned to think out long elaborate stories while driving. My stories have been my companions all my life. They pull in threads of possibilities and what ifs. I explore alternate realities through my imagination.
The day I started writing down one of my “what if” stories, my life changed. My characters took on form and became more than shadowy figures that I could change at will. They solidified into strong beings who do as they please. Sometimes I wonder where they come from and like Alice in Wonderland I’m tempted to tell them they are just imaginary.
Okay, I’ve tried telling them they’re imaginary. Maude smiles sweetly and asks if I would like some tea. Jake argues. “No. We live in your head, but we are as real as anybody else. We have thoughts and desires. We work. We pray. It is your notions of reality that do not exist. We exist.”
Well fine. The characters in my books lead out their lives in my head. Occasionally, I check in on them. Jake and Celia smirk and tell me to close the bedroom door on the way out. Maude is likely to tell me to take a casserole to someone and Janette is too busy with her baby to pay much attention to me.
Fay, hugs me and asks when I am going to write about her wedding. Brides can be a bit nervous and demanding, but Fay is the first I’ve known who wants a whole book written about her wedding. Maudy laughs and agrees that I must write about the wedding. Soon all the other characters in my head are planning the reception and clamoring for me to tell their part in the event. I get a little resentful that they want me to write this whole novel just so they can have a party. They don’t see anything wrong with this idea. In fact they are quite excited about it all.
“I plan to make the wedding cake so can I come to the reception and bring Benny?” Janette sounds a little hesitant.
Jake kisses Janette on top of her head. “Of course you must come and bring Benny. It will be good to see him again. He and his friends did a fantastic job for us during our troubles. I’d like to take some time to chat with him as a friend.” Jake kisses Janette on top of her head again and takes her baby out of her arms.
Maude rushes through. “Oh Janette, you can use my kitchen here if you don’t want to transport the cake. Or, you can use the kitchen at the church.”
“I thought I’d do it at my house so I can watch Bennett.” Janette looks around for her baby.
“Jake stole him and Celia is teaching him sign language. She’ll probably have him reading in another fifteen minutes.”
“I can help Janette with the cake.” Maudy’s mother comes in and ties on an apron. “I took cake decorating classes.”
Fay dances through, “Oh and don’t worry about the cake topper. Rose told me that Kathy and Meg found some classy cake toppers when they were in Ireland. She thought they found some from the Waterford factory. Wouldn’t that be lovely?” Fay has been ricocheting between drifting about dreamily and bouts of industry. Perhaps if I write about her wedding she will settle down to complacent domesticity.
I still need to attend to the business of all my other characters. The story of when Jake and Celia were lovers is traveling the world and selling nicely. Jake’s autobiography needs lots of promotion. Maudy’s story is starting to take off and sell well. As for Janette, Rose, Kathy and Meg, their stories are still being corrected and edited and proofed. They remember a detail they want included and I must rewrite a section. Every rewrite causes at least two errors only one of which I catch.
Thus, though I live on a small farm in the woods in the middle of the Puget Sound, I have whole villages of people living in my head so I am never alone.