The other day, I had the opportunity to talk to some younger writers. One of them mentioned Salinger and how he used to find his characters so real, he would often refer to them as real people. For instance, according to this young woman, he would say things like, "Holden would never do that." She said this in a tone of awe, like it was unusual. Abnormal, even.
For once, the little safety mechanism that's supposed to keep me out of mental hospitals activated in time. I said not a word. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Thing is, I thought all writers viewed their characters as real people. I thought it was normal. At least for writers.
Hell, even the members of my writing group refer to my characters as if they were real people and I talk about theirs the same way. Last December, I was having trouble with a scene and, after patiently listening to my frustrations, one member of my group just turned to me and said, "But she would never do that. She would..."
It can be so annoying when other people know your characters better than you.
Earlier this year, this same character -- she lives to cause trouble -- got mad at me and stormed out of my head and went and stayed with another member of my writing group for a few days. Eventually, she got tired of tormenting that person's muse and came home. And then, a week or so ago, the sister of the trouble-making character got bored because I was overworked and stressed and had no time for her, although it was her turn to have my full attention, so she just up and left for a couple of days.
No lie, the spot in my brain where she normally resides was blank. Empty. Hollow. She did come back, but I still have no idea where she was or what she did while she was gone. I doubt she'll ever tell me.