Sunday, September 05, 2010

Voices in my head and an idea from Remittance Girl

A few days ago, a voice in my head said, “I’d never had a knife against my throat before.”

I choose not to take this kind of occurance as a sign of the imminent onset of mental illness, but rather as and invitation from a character to writer his or her story.

Occaisionally the charater will tell me their story in one intense session and it feels like I am channeling them rather than writing fiction.

In most cases, the character provides hints and clues, almost is if he or she was letting me over hear parts of a conversation.

This latest voice was female, Canadian, educated and unafraid despite the knife at her neck.

Those were the only clues she gave me, the rest I had to work out for myself.

It turned out that this woman had not crawled inside my ear so that I would understand some aspect of her arousal. Instead, it turned out that she wanted me to tell the story of a bank robbery.

It starts:

I’d never had a knife against my throat before.

All my attention was on where the horribly sharp blade kissed my neck. If the guy with the ski-mask behind me pushed any harder, my flesh would part and blood would flow, then my new blouse would be ruined.

Damn, why did I pick today to wear something silk and hard to clean?

So now I knew that this was a self-possesed woman with a wry sense of humour. Now all I had to figure out was why she was there, what she wanted, and what she'd have to do to get it. That's pretty much the same for every character who talks to me.

The challenge this time was that this story needs a plot. It would have been easier, I suppose, to start with the plot and then create characters that will move it along, but I've never been able to do this. I had to think backwards from the character to the plot and then add just enough spice to both to keep me and the reader interested in what was going to happen next.

The story is called "Box 127" and you can find it here

Take a look and let me know what you think

Not every story get's written within a few days of a voice arriving in my head. Last year Remittance Girl, asked us to imagine what it would be like not to be able to be touched. The idea caught my imagination. “Untouched” is the result.

As you might expect, the man in this story has a unique "voice" - dry, urbane, and just a little bit scary - mainly because he cannot quite comprehend how strange he is.

Being a difficult character he actually gave me Part 1 of this story and Part 3 almost immediately. Part 2 is still in progress, so only Part 1 has seen the light of day so far. I believe there will be four parts in all.

Here's a sample of how our hero sees himself

It is fair to say that my sexual experience with other people has been limited. Very limited.

Arousal is not the issue. From puberty onwards my body became a lust-furnace, greedily demanding to be fuelled each day. Yet, although my mind flared with need and my eyes sucked in erotic images as if they were oxygen, it was always my own hand that stoked the flames.

I am, by preference, a wanker.

Yes, I know the politically correct response: wanking is a pejorative term, we all masturbate, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t define who we are, blah, blah, blah. Except, in my case, masturbation is not just the fast-food, self-service option on my sexual menu, it is my entire cuisine. It’s been more than twenty years since I last had any physical sexual contact with another person.

I'm pleased to have the voices in my head, even though it means I have to find the time to get them to the page before the noise becomes unbearable. I suppose this makes my writing a sort of metaphorical trepanning.

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