A couple of months ago I began the process of becoming a man…and I must say it’s a quite interesting endeavor. When I first got the idea for my latest novel, I knew it would have to happen. The story needed a male narrator. I’m not going to lie…it scared me a little. Could I do this character justice? Could I conquer all the little nuances that make up not only the male psyche in general, but a specific male? I knew I had to try. I would have to put my girly, Margaret Mitchell-inspired writing voice aside, rub a little dirt in the keyboard and start my journey towards becoming Grant Tilley.
His face came first. I could see him at about thirteen years old, liberally speckled with red freckles, standing out in the hot Charleston sun with green eyes too knowledgable for a child. He was wearing greasy overalls and an expression on his face that gave away the fact he was surviving the Great Depression in the South. He started the story as a boy, already with the stress of a man on his shoulders. I could feel the nature of a male, how he works harder through stress, and grows up based on experiences instead of time starting to unfold, as my fingers started stretching. I reached for the keys, waiting on his voice to show up, almost feeling the hesitant cadence to his tone forcing me to pause. I could then see gestures and body language….he was making my mind fire off image after image….then there it was…the accent…and he started to speak. The next thing I knew,the white screen was spitting up black letters, and I was spewing Grant Tilley out of my veins. At this point, it wasn’t about trying…he had arrived.
This was the greatest joy for me as a writer. It was maybe the first time a character who was nothing like me came so purely out of me. It is so real when I write from his prospective. It doesn’t matter that I’m the girliest kind of girl. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never experienced a life like his…the idea was born, then there he came, almost entrancing me, dancing out of my mind and all over the page…or maybe he clogged out of my mind…
I half expected to come back to consciousness mid-writing session to notice myself sweltering under either stress or real heat one, in a pair of overalls two sizes too small that had been washed in mud hole. However, when I stop writing I’m just me, and Grant lives in my computer, staying quiet until he comes traipsing out, fishing pole in hand, through my mind once again.~