Did I Do That?

Image result for images of the glass bridge by lee duigon

These remarks may strike some of you as a little weird. But writing fantasy novels does tend to lean a bit in that direction. And there are always readers who are curious about what it’s like to be a writer. So here goes.

I’m editing Bell Mountain No. 11, The Temptation, which means I have to read it attentively. And although I do know I made up the characters that populate my books, it doesn’t feel anymore like I made them up! They feel like real people that I really know.

When I’m actually writing a book, I’m too deeply involved in writing it to respond to what I’ve written. So when I read it, much later, it’s a whole different experience–almost as if someone else wrote the book, not me. I read a passage that gets to me and find myself thinking, “Oh, I didn’t write that! Did I? Could I?” It feels like these characters, places, and events came into print through me and have a real existence that has little or nothing to do with me. As if I were more a chronicler than a creator.

I wonder if other writers feel these things. I know she isn’t, but at the same time I just can’t shed the notion that Gurun (that’s her, pictured above) is a real person who is even now doing things, experiencing things, that I don’t know about.

I believe the people I read about in the “news” are real, don’t I?

“Never heard of ’em,” says Gurun.

13 comments on “Did I Do That?

  1. I think I know the phenomenon you describe. I have written a handful of songs and written arrangements of numerous songs written by others. The amazing thing, especially when it comes to the music, as opposed to the lyrics, is that there’s a certain point where the song is complete and comes into possession of an identity all its own. After that point, the song is my creation, but it exists as a song and is not subject to change. This holds true for songs I wrote forty years ago, which have not been altered in any way in all the time since.

    I retain the intellectual property rights to the song, and own it in that sense, but the song is no longer mine to do with what I wish. What is amazing is the fact that there’s a definite moment when this happens and the song takes on its own existence. It’s like it has a life of its own from that point on, and indeed, it does.

    A couple of months ago, I wrote a somewhat lively, playful tune in a minor key which would make the perfect sonic backdrop while Inspector Clouseau stumbled through the bushes, completely botching his investigation. Here’s the beautiful part, I played it for a musician friend and he quickly picked up on the bass line, while I played the guitar part. It was an amazing experience to hear my own creation as it was, for the first time ever, expressed by another musician. It’s like seeing your child steal the show in the school play; pride in the accomplishment and a degree of disbelief.

    I actually intend to register copyright on it and distribute it as a digital recording. It’s not likely to make any money, unless they bring Peter Sellers back from the grave, 🙂 but it will take on a life of its own to an even greater degree.

    So yes Lee, there is a Santa Claus . . . Scratch that! Yes Lee, you did do that and it’s a great feeling when you create something and see it, for the first time, as a completed work, not just a project.

  2. It must be difficult to keep track of all the characters and what they have done. That’s a job in itself.

    1. I imagine that is very helpful. I know that a person can read the same thing over and over and fail to spot a problem that a fresh pair of eyes will find immediately. That’s why there are editors and after having read any number of self-published books, I can certainly understand just how important an editor is.

      Your books are remarkably error-free.

  3. Before Thomas Wolfe died someone read a passage from a book to him and asked his opinion of it. He said he was impressed by it. Turns out he was the one who had written it but had forgotten it.

  4. That’s one of the qualities that make your stories so special, Lee. You actually care about and love your characters. As I’ve said before – and it bears repeating here – if you didn’t love them, how could we?

    1. That’s a profound observation.

      Lee’s spark of youth has never died out. Instead, it has matured into a rich imagination that has a lifelong continuity. It’s a wonderful gift.

    2. Which must be why we, your readers of all ages (from the youngsters whose comments I read to us 70-year-old oldies) love your stories so much. And here’s a little secret – some of us – like me – think of them as real people too 🙂

      You know, Lee, another thought just came to mind. The predicaments, happenings, emotions, etc. of each one of them are those things you’ve given them as they go along. They’re not magic wand stuff. They’re real. And you’re there climbing that mountain, just steps ahead of Martis. Yes, we love your characters – and you 🙂

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