Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Realness of Our Imaginary Worlds
Without thinking, I nearly jumped into the conversation with: "I know a fantastic doctor there."
Then I realized, Oh yeah. I made him up. He only exists in my head, in my book.
The thing is, this wasn't the last time that's happened to me. There have been other conversations where I've told someone how great Johns Hopkins is, as if I personally had experience with the doctors and treatment there. I have nearly told people that there is a cure for diabetes with adult stem cells that is in stage two trials.
Perhaps it's normal, after spending so much time researching and writing, to feel that what we have created is in fact real instead of imaginary. I have walked parts of the Johns Hopkins campus, but I have never been in or around their medical facilities. I do not know anyone who has gone through diabetes treatment trials of any kind. I do not know a boy with a turquoise Mohawk.
And yet, I feel like I do.
There are moments when I channel the bitterness of my newest protagonist, as though I have taken on her abusive history and angry persona. I wake up thinking I might start the day with coffee from the coffee-shop one of my characters owns before I realize that it, too, is just part of my imagination.
But I can tell you the color of the wood of the round tables, the pattern of the overstuffed chairs, the smell of coffee and mocha and baking bread all blended into a perfect atmosphere. Those details aren't even in my book, but I know them.
The short story I most recently wrote is the closest I've ever gotten to real life. The characters are blends of people I actually know, the situation one similar to one I saw a friend go through. Though the story is fictional, I have blurred the lines enough that even I have to stop and think about what is true and what is not. The characters are as real to me as the people that live in the real world on whom they were based.
Am I alone in this... this momentary forgetfulness of what is true and what is made up? I like to think that if it feels that real to me, it will feel that real to readers. One can hope, right? :) Or should I just be waiting for the crazy train to pick me up?