In character

Someone said the difference between being psychotic and being a writer is very narrow indeed. Some people hear voices and are locked up, and others hear voices and write their stories.

In the last three weeks, I’ve realized I “channel” my characters. It’s not something an outsider would necessarily notice. I’m not sure my Patient Husband even notices, to tell the truth, but I’ll just say it.

I begin to “put on” characters I love. It’s as if after trying to crawl into their heads and live their lives for a few months, I begin trying to wear them on the outside as well.

(This is separate from how sometimes, if I’m not careful, I may find myself mimicking a character’s facial expression. When someone says, “What’s wrong?” or “Why are you angry?” and I realize I’ve accidentally lost contact with reality and it’s time to come home. Another writer once said, “I love it when you read your work. Your voice acts it out, and your face changes.” Thanks, I think.)

Case in point: my baseball cap. I have one, and only one. (It has angels on it. You knew it did.) In the last few weeks, I’ve switched from my winter cap to my baseball cap due to the weather. Or so you’d think.

Actually, one of the characters in ♥My Book♥ has a New York Yankees cap he wears all the time. Except, one assumes, to sleep, or when he’s performing. (He’s a musician, and a Yankees cap doesn’t work well with a tux.) And for the last few weeks, I find myself reaching for my baseball cap and wearing it all the time because when I do that, I’m like Josh. I leave it on until I have to take it off (I may be an adult, but my mother would kill me if I wore it to the dinner table — some things are just programmed in) and the next time I head outside, that cap is right back on my head.

This too will pass. Back when I was writing my Seven Archangels novels, I went through a Grey Period. Gabriel has grey wings and grey eyes. And for a while, I wore grey sneakers, grey socks, a grey sweatshirt, a grey turtleneck… Not all at the same time, but I’d put on that shirt and for a moment, I was like my character. I could “put on” those characteristics and be him just a little bit in secret.

It’s never a total makeover, and I don’t do it for every character. Just sometimes, when one especially captures my heart, I want him or her to capture a little of the outside of me too.


  1. whiskers

    I do that with books I read…It can get a little scary sometimes.

  2. Loriendil

    Jane, I’m more and more convinced we must be sisters…

  3. philangelus

    LOL! I’ll ask my mom if she forgot to tell me something.

  4. Ivy

    I not only do the same thing, I design and knit tribute patterns to my characters. Come to think of it, I designed a knit a tribute pattern for one of your characters.

  5. Loriendil

    Jane — just read an interview* with Lois McMaster Bujold, who has three successful SF series. She says:

    “I have sometimes wondered if writing novels isn’t some sort of dissociative disorder, and if only we could all have the right meds and upbringings, we’d stop.”

    Hm, I think we’re all on to something…

    *full interview here:

  6. karen ^.,.^

    i add charms to my charm bracelet for my characters. they can be a bit hard to explain when people want to see what charms i have! 🙂

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