Image: Self Portrait, the Artist Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting (1791) Artist: Angelica Kauffman
Every writing task presents its own challenges the main one for me is whose voice to tell it through.
So often in writing the response to a prompt can be solved for me by taking one of my muses and seeing which one best fits the task.
I have two muses a male and female who for the most part get along very well.
Summer and Tommy were the two voices I used some years ago in writing a series of tales about the relationship between a man and woman who came from unlikely backgrounds.
Being male I started off in my male voice and wrote Tommy’s story of meeting Summer. It was an exploration in his own reticence to go up to Summer whom he saw as way out of his depth.
But unknown to him she had her eye on him and as they were regular travellers on the same bus eventually there came a time where they both were alighting at the same time and from there a conversation developed which led to the eventual date.
I had no problems with this part of the story as so much was based on my own experiences.
I wrote two pieces from Tommy’s perspective with his muse dictating to me the direction, the action, the need and want of his character.
As I was doing this I was considering the viewpoint of Summer. There was far more to her character than the brash woman Tommy at first encounters.
To get inside her head Summer came to life. My issue was being male how could I successfully create a female character that might be believed.
So I stopped being me and took on Summer. At least her muse jumped out at me and I discovered that her desired medium was going to be poetry. I tried to force Summer into prose but her muse made it clear that a poetic form was the best way to convey her story.
Once this was settled it became easier to write from her perspective.
Sometimes Summer demands the reins and away I go. Sometimes she is happy to sit back and watch what happens.
I think with the Summer Tommy stories they did ultimately work well together as the two characters played well off each other and my later exploration of Summer’s character in which she had a hidden personality only increased my own awareness of the fact that so often we can be multi-faceted characters with personalities all of our own.
Summer came alive in revealing her background of abuse and retribution. There was a split in her character from brashness to extreme vulnerability.
Tommy on the other hand hung on to who he was forever being surprised by the woman he felt so attracted to.
I think sometimes it’s our muses who take us as writers to places we never imagined we might venture to. So often I find myself working hard at the keyboard to kept up with the words and ideas that either muse is throwing at me at any one time.
It’s afterwards that I sit back and read over what I’ve written and have the thought, did I really write that.
Getting inside a characters head is a wonderful adventure. Sometimes they are painful characters in that they have had troubled lives and it’s a strain to go there and write from their perspective but your muse guides you along.
The other thing that I sometimes have conflict with my muses is the recognition of audience. Who do I think may be reading what I write, will it make sense for sometimes my muses really do rabbit on and have to be reined in.
I am wondering which of them has been at the helm of this discourse. I think it may have been a rare joint effort.
No it was me!
It wasn’t you know she says that all the time.
You are such a wanker Tommy.
Stop being a cow Summer.
You think being a boy you are always the best.
Well most of the time it’s me he uses.
Maybe but you never contribute a word of poetry.
I’m no good at rhyming.
No good period…
You see what I have to deal with??