Sometimes people avoid simple questions because they stop being simple. Case in point, how do you write about someone different from yourself?
I once came across a fictional character that I related to so well. And it made me cry. See, the character was Michel in Andre Gidé’s, “The Immoralist.” Boy was I pissed that the only book I could find that accurately described being sick was written by a pedophile about a pedophile. For the record, I am not a pedophile. I had cancer and Michel had tuberculosis.
And at some point it struck me that it must really suck to never have books that can capture your experience without some sort of painful accompaniment. That happens to people every day. I did not want to be that kind of writer. But, how to do that?
1-2 years ago I came across a class called, “Writing the Other” and I was thrilled. “Learn to write characters very different from you sensitively and convincingly.” Yes. Sign me up.
Except it was a bad time for me to take said class, because of course it was. Raising babies is time-consuming. As is a full-time job. But to make it work, I read the book, as well as the Invisible series 1 & 2, which I gleaned off a reading list. But I didn’t do any of the exercises, so, I certainly left a lot on the table. But what I did experience was fantastic. I had written a sci-fi YA draft that needed rewriting (rushed through on purpose, which is another blog post for another day), and just by doing the readings, it halted me another year so I could think and change things. Version three is on deck.
Fast forward to today. I am signed up for a real class and have my real syllabus! This version is focused on description, which is extra great for me. I tend to leave description out, (I suspect pithy reporting education and playwriting cemented that habit). And it’s a big gap in my novel writing.
I also discovered that the Writing the Other site is completely chock full of cool on-demand classes, podcasts, interviews, and more. Go check it out. I feel so fortunate and will update you all again after the class.