So it’s the oddest thing, what I’ve been experiencing and encountering for years, as I write these tales, as I’ve written *any* stories, the sense that my characters are alive and sitting/walking/talking with me, and not just when I’m writing. I know they’re not “real”, not in the sense that the world usually considers real, but it’s hard to argue when I keep getting senses of image and conversation that I can’t explain, that aren’t “me” (if that makes any sense).
For example, at my workplace, the TV is on in the breakroom, tuned to whatever the Saturday football game is, and I’m sitting there, peacefully eating my lunch, no one else around and I’m ignoring the TV. Then I suddenly see, clearly, two of my characters sitting in one’s living room, sharing cans of pop and bags of chips, and watching the game on a little black-and-white TV, commenting and laughing and cheering the plays. I see the grins, and the high-fives, another character wandering in to lean in the doorway and make a snide comment…it’s so freakin’ REAL I blink and wonder where the HELL it came from.
Please note — I’ve never been a football fan. Neither’s Brett. We don’t own a TV, haven’t for years.
And the comments, off-hand, off the cuff, just as real, enough I have to occasionally explain to Brett what I’m grinning about. Like today at the grocery store — I’m hearing Rafe and Jonathan (the two referenced above) keep up a running, tag-along, grinning commentary on being able to buy food that’s not Ramen/hot dogs and the supposedly rich-kid-yuppie strangeness of some of what me & Brett buy (fettucine, fer cryin’ out loud, guys, it’s just spaghetti — okay, okay, I’ll grant you the low-sodium tamari and the parmesan reggiano, but STILL…)
Other bits, other images, other chatter, other conversation. This goes on, that sense of presence, the sense of these characters being real and hanging out. It’s been going on for YEARS, as long as I can remember. It worries me; schizophrenia and mental illness run on Dad’s side of the family. I look at my crazy-shit-violent uncle and equally crazy-weird aunt, at another aunt’s hoarding-sickness-poverty, at Dad’s depression, at my brother’s sociopathy…I wonder. I keep wondering.
If anyone here is familiar with RadioLab (the most awesome show NPR funds), they did a show on pop music and earworms and people who have realistic, vivid, constant hallucinations of music playing. Perfectly sane people (and not musicians), who have constant music playing in their heads and who can’t switch it off. The show brought up casually a point of how the ears and brain are connected, that there’s more nerves going from the brain TO the ear and very few going from the ears to the brain — that we’re more wired to listen to our brain than our brain is wired to listen to the outside world — and that one thing these people have discovered is that the songs seem to be a conversation with their brain and subconscious.
Brett was looking at me during that, and going, “Chris…you know, those characters of yours…”
At which point, I’m going, yeah, but why in the hell would my subconscious sit in a living room and watch a football game?