Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Fictional Characters
Over the weekend, Neil Gaiman talked about his response to the question "Which fictional character would you choose to be?" I've been thinking about it ever since. The truth is, I don't know what my answer would be. I've been so many characters. I am every character I ever read about to some extent. Usually, I make up other, side characters who occasionally interact with the main character, but mostly just live their own lives in that world. What can I say? It was boring walking home during middle school. There were lots of interesting people to talk to this way.

I keep wondering if I'm going to become more creative again, or if I used up all my fiction and art creativity when I was in middle and high school. Or is this what being a grown-up is like, this lack of time within my own head? While I was at Grinnell, Roy once proposed the theory that Grinnell sucked the creative energy out of people, like a big black hole. My perhaps more charitable theory is that at Grinnell, I was actually interested in far more of my classes, and thus did not retreat quite so far into my own head for entertainment. This was a good thing, educationally speaking, and certainly not something I would ever call a downside to my college years, but sometimes I missed all those people I used to be, and used to talk to.

It's kind of like there's a certain amount of energy my mind has to devote to bridging this reality with the one where all my sustained character interactions take place. If I'm using too much of that energy on school or *gasp* real life, I can't get there, except for occasional glimpses and short little conversations. Sort of like how all my friends are now scattered all over the US and the world, and I only get to talk to them every once in a while on the phone, I suppose. I'd like to think now that I'm taking kind of not-so-fascinating classes again, I'll find my way back to that creative land inside my head, but then again, I might just find my mind spinning off into thinking about what I need to teach my ESL class the next day instead.

I miss the days when I could devote my free time to devouring books, to sending my mind all over the imaginable galaxy, to making up fascinating people to interact with. I miss the days when my work didn't follow me home and beyond. I miss the days when I could be anything and everything, but I didn't have to decide just yet, because those days were a long way off. I miss being other people.

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