Sometimes I sit and think about things I ought not to think about. I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said something about writers being not just one person but many people. In fact, the quote may be included in my quotes widget on the sidebar. It makes me think of all the characters I’ve got inside me: the ones I’ve written, the ones I  haven’t written, and possibly the ones I haven’t even named who are just waiting to reveal themselves to me. There are a lot of aspects of me, I suppose, each substantial enough to take form. They could clothe themselves and put on masks, then walk around as various characters to be used at my discretion in my writing.

What am I trying to say?

Writers have to be several people if they’re to be successful. If you can’t create characters and bring them to life, you might as well give up and go home. But if I think about that quote and think of myself as someone who is not a writer, then what do I get out of it?

Everyone struggles to balance the many different identities they’ve created for themselves.

We have a separate “me” to fill every role in our lives. Think about it… you have the “student” role that you fill at school, the “daughter” or “son” role you fill with your parents, the “employee” role at work, the “patient” role at the doctor’s office, and so on and so forth. There are certain expected behaviors and rules you must follow while filling each role – and those rules are different depending on the role.

Some of us switch roles with ease. We go from being the child to being the parent, from being the teacher to being the student, from being the friend to being the disciplinary figure. But I’m starting to believe that maybe some of us have more trouble switching from role to role. As a writer you have to constantly be two roles at once…the observer and everything else.

This may not be true of everyone but for me, as a writer, I have learned to be constantly recording things mentally for use later. I study how someone reacts, and I become obsessive about why they acted a certain way if I don’t understand it. I can’t simply let it go because I have to know why and what caused it.

I’ve begun to realize that this comes with side-effects or consequences or whatever you want to call them. Sometimes I over-analyze people and their behaviors, and I don’t always find the answers I want. But the problem is that I seem to become hard to read myself – or I seem cold, disinterested, rude, or many other negative things. I’m so busy watching that I don’t show what I should. Or I’m so busy analyzing that I miss what I should have seen.

I wonder, have I become so preoccupied with understanding why someone acts a certain way that I’ve forgotten how to act myself?

I find it so hard to sit by and watch people hurt each other and not know why one allows themselves to be hurt. Yet, at the same time, even though I can clearly see how they could solve the problem and stop their own pain – I cannot stop others from hurting me just the same. I know the proper behaviors, the steps I should take, the things I should do… but I begin anticipating the reactions I would receive in response to my own actions.

I don’t stop people from taking advantage of me because I’m too busy worrying about what will happen next. Will they feel offended and hurt? Will they be angry and vindictive? Will they turn away completely? Will I somehow feel at fault?

At the same time I struggle to understand the motivations one might have for hurting someone knowingly. My novel currently lacks a strong-villain, he simply has no presence. Is this because I’m afraid to look into a mind so dark and have to understand what drives a person like that?

I wish there was a magic button I could push that would explain to me why a person does what they do. I wish there was a way to justify what I see and not feel so much disappointment in our society and maybe even mankind in general. We’re referred to as “Humanity” but sometimes we don’t have any humanity at all.

About the Author: Heather

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