Early in February I began work on a short story. The story involves a knight’s loyalty to his king despite the challenges they both face. As I wrote the story, I began to form a bond with the characters, and they became an extension of me. After two-thirds of the way through the draft, the story required one of the major characters to die. I was surprised at the level of emotion this generated within me. I never saw it coming.
No, I didn’t get to the level of the poor kid in the picture to the left. What surprised me was feeling anything at all. There I was, working on my story, and I began to form bonds with these characters. They became my friends, and I could feel what they felt as I wrote about their lives. It was an unexpected, enlightening experience, one that I enjoyed to no end. When the death scene was written, it was typed onto the screen with a heavy heart, as if a close friend had suddenly passed away. We’ve all experienced that hollow, broken-hearted feeling, like your chest cavity is suddenly emptied. That is what I felt, and oddly enough, I am so glad I did. While saddened, I felt more human, more in touch with me. I explained this to my wife who, being the uber-counselor she is, told me I was not sad for that character, but was relating the experience the character went through to an experience in my own life. Hmm, I’ll have to think about that for awhile…
Then again, perhaps I’m just going insane. As one of my heroes, Kurt Cobain, once sang:
I’m so happy, ’cause today I found my friends. They’re in my head.