Following on from my last post, in which we discussed online personas, factual or ridiculous, I’ve been thinking about a couple of characters I dearly miss from blogging misadventures past. One very talented writer whose blog I love (thank you, Elaine Canham) suggested that whatever personal stuff writers say about themselves online could just be made up. This made me think even more. (Doesn’t happen too often. But I have paracetamol.)
A few years back, a competition got me blogging for the first time. The competition aimed to find a couple who would road-test honeymoons for six months.
I can’t imagine why anyone might want to enter a competition which would enable them to travel to the most paradisiacal spots of the planet for half a year with the person they’re mad about, and get paid to boot for the pleasure, but still, myself and the man who now lets me call him my husband made the supreme sacrifice of entering. To our horror, we ended up reaching the final.
All ten finalists in the competition had to blog every day for the two weeks leading up to the final weekend. It was supposed to be a way of introducing finalists and their writing styles to both the competition judges and the general public. It gave me both a thirst and a taste for blogging, even though it would take another 3 years before I would actually do so in earnest.
But only a day or so into the 2-week run, I ran into problems. I didn’t like blogging about myself. It just felt weird, talking about myself to a bunch of strangers. Why the hell would anyone care what I did or thought? And was it right to talk about the people in my life, even if one of them was my equal partner in the competition, responsible for 50% of our entry in the first place?
I started off by referring to said husband by a nickname, even though both our names had already been made public by the competition organisers, because I just felt more comfortable writing that way.
It snowballed from there. By the end of the 2 weeks, rather than blogging about ourselves, I was blogging about 2 invented characters called Tark and Mara, who were supposed to be more or less the opposite of ourselves. And unlike reality, they were bloody great fun to write about.
They still come to mind often: Tark, a tiny bald-headed man with demonic eyebrows who never smiled; and Mara, an underweight clothes hanger who lived in horror of speaking to anyone in possession of a home with less than 3 external doorways and 12,000 square feet of living space.
Tark and Mara led rich and fabulous lives; scorned ordinary people; made a handsome living out of turning up to parties, and found much to deride in the sweetest of circumstances. I miss them. In particular, I miss the writer Mara would have turned out to be. Notwithstanding the three million in royalties Mara would have garnered within sixty-nine days of writing her first erotic gardening crime novel, I would have loved to see what she would have done with the fame.
It’s rare that characters can seem so crystal clear almost immediately, the very moment they’re thought of. In fact, I can still hear them calling to me. Begging to be let out of their box. To live again.
One of these days, they just might.