I’m supposed to be writing

so this will be quick.  But something I read (somewhere) yesterday has been nagging at me, and I just sussed it out, and it made me laugh, so I had to tell somebody.  And since the cats don’t care . . . .

Yesterday somebody was talking about self-inserts in stories, which from context seemed to mean that the main character was an insert for the author in some way, like living out dreams in story.  It was tied to Mary-Sues, which is harder for me to parse without doing actual work looking it up, but it seems to be related in that the character is too perfect and too sweet.  I was trying to decide if I did either.  I think I used to write Mary-Sues, but I haven’t for some time.  Emily Elliott is the closest I can think of in the current canon, but I made her loose, so that seems to cover that one.  (Besides, everyone loves her, so she stays as she is.)  I know I did self-inserts when I was a teenager: hell, once I even used my own name.  Which reminds me, prompt me sometime to post stuff from that era.  I still have all of it in this huge tub, currently located in my bedroom where it was holding up a fan.

Anyway.  I’d cleared myself from these sins, sort of, but something was nagging at me and I couldn’t let it rest.  Then just now I was writing Sam and realized that I actually do self-inserts all the time.  Not all my characters are taken from my own marrow, but a lot of them are.  Luke Waters, for example, is not: he’s part my dad and part a lot of guys I’ve known from small towns.  But a great number of my characters I breathe life into by finding some part of me and ramping it up and breathing on it until it takes off in its own direction, but there’s always this huge part of me in there.  Charles could be my goddamned fraternal twin, for example, and Madeline, too.  And John, and even Will, and Sam.  The thing I don’t do, though, is make everything handy for them.  In fact, when they get some part of me, they also get the pain that goes with it.  Hal (in the story that got sent to Dreamspinner) has my tendency to be unwilling to believe he can be special and a fear that something bad will happen if he accepts that.  Morgan has my tendency to love too quickly and too completely.  And in this story right now, Sam has my love/fear/confusion about being too sexual, and my fear that I am supposed to Do Something with my life but no one will tell me what, and he also has my huge, huge weakness that if you smile and me and love me I will have to work hard not to fall in love with you, because even though I know it ends up breaking my heart eventually, I always open my arms.

So yeah, I think I self-insert. But in a really fucked-up way.  Any time now, world, if you want to turn that into something that pays on a regular basis so we can work on this mortgage, student loan debt, and credit card, that’d be fine with me.

Back to work.

2 Comments on “I’m supposed to be writing

  1. I would venture to say that everyone self-inserts to an extent, and it can be a Good Thing. I find these characters (built from the writer’s cast of RL experiences/acquanitances) to be more fully rounded, and their motivations more realistic and believable. *shrug*

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