Saturday, June 27, 2015

Look in the Mirror by Betsy Ashton

I was all over the place on this post. So many things are milling around in the blogosphere, on the airwaves and with the voices in my head that I had to write about identity. Your own identity is an intensely personal thing, because it is how you see yourself.

I can look at myself in the mirror each morning and see the size 6 woman I used to be. I used to have dark hair, no wrinkles and a serious tan every summer. I could see myself as Wonder Woman, that incredible image of a woman super-hero who fought crime and won. I could see myself as young and idealistic, who thought the Baby Boomer generation could change the world through our sheer numbers. And I would be lying to myself.

I used to be a six 6 back, oh say, thirty years ago. I had the flattest stomach in the world. I was lean and mean. And I was tanned. All over. No tan lines. But that is for a different post. Maybe.

I can fool myself into believing I'm that twenty-something, but the reality is different. Not worse, just different.

The voices in my head shape my books. I have to live in a character's head for a long time before I really get the identity of said character. How does she see herself when she looks into the mirror? Does she self-identify as good? As bad? As something the reader knows she clearly isn't?

I can no longer fool myself about not being twenty-something any longer. Neither can my characters fool me into thinking they are something they aren't. My idea of facing them in the mirror is to see their flaws, their strengths, their weaknesses. It's my task to select the traits, warts and stretch marks that make them into readable characters.

In my latest WIP, I guarantee my main character isn't all that likeable. She's definitely interesting. I let her get away with fooling herself at the beginning, but reckoning day is rapidly approaching. When we reach it, you'll feel seismic upheavals. Stand in a doorway and brace yourself. I don't think this character is going to like being "outed" for the person she is.

Have you every written about a character who was self-delusional? How did you solve the problem?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, which is now available in e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Jannine Gallant said...

Hmm, my characters are usually pretty self-aware. They generally see all their problems and aren't shy about admitting they have them. The heroine in the next book I have yet to write in my new series is different. She was overweight as a teen with self-image problems. But even though she's lost the weight, she can't see the new woman she's become. Should be interesting to bring her to life.

Barbara Edwards said...

I never reached a six but I did weight 118 pounds when I got married. Ah the memories. I do try to use feelings in my writing and most of them come from experiences in the past. I don't make my characters introspective, especially the men. Since none of the males I know do that.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Interesting points, here. Since I push for a learning curve in my characters, introspection (self-awareness, as Jannine calls it) is key for my characters. By the ends of my novels, my heroes/heroines know they have changed, because in order for them to 'be together,' they have to have articulated/acknowledged the change. So the look in the mirror, as Betsy describes it, is the end game.