Do you know what my favorite thing about being a human being is?
Wait…is that something an alien would say to try and blend in with human beings? “Hi. I am Chase. How are all of my fellow multicellular organisms doing today?”
Not to get off topic, but that is exactly what an alien would say to blend in so that the government wouldn’t find out that they were infiltrating humanity. Also, I have been accused of sounding robotic due to my ineptitude with contractions when speaking or conversing online, and my love of lists. I also am an Oxford comma enthusiast…so…maybe I am an alien? Please don’t tell the government.
Regardless, my favorite thing about being a human being (and not an alien–promise) is that we are in charge of who we are from one day to the next. Sometimes, I find that I wasn’t as kind as I wanted to be, or as social and outgoing as I would like, or I was too lazy one day, or not as hard-working, or standoffish, or patient, or…a million things that make me unhappy with myself.
But that’s okay. There is always tomorrow. I can change or improve behaviors or try harder to be the version of myself that I really want to be. Honestly, who I am deep down is a gay guy who likes to be lazy with his boyfriend, spend time with his dog, and read books. I’m not overly complicated, nor do I have many needs or desires. I’m perfectly happy being that guy. Generally speaking, I think I am a pretty decent guy who is just trying to “get his grind on,” have a good romantic life, write books (that people enjoy, hopefully), and not cause harm to others. So far…so good?
Now, do you know what my favorite thing about being a writer is?
It’s the same thing. One of the best things about being a writer is that we all get to “try on hats” every time we write a story and create new characters. Do you not want to be a sociopath in real life? Write a character who is a sociopath so that you can have fun pretending that you are the thing you’d hate to be in real life. Do you not like your hair, your eye color, your height, your size, or something else about your physical appearance? Write a character who looks the way you wish that you did.
Not only does “trying on hats” allow a writer to live out a fantasy about being someone different (at least in their head), it builds empathy and compassion for people who are different than we are in real life. This is why I get a little frustrated with gatekeepers. Whenever I write a character who is a different from myself, I research and then ask questions of people who are like my characters. What I learn from this research and speaking to people different than myself–or what is reinforced, actually–is that we are all deserving of love, kindness, respect, and dignity. It helps me grow as a human being. And we all know I love being a human being, right?
Needless to say, I feel that a writer should not be afraid to write characters unlike themselves. Yes, you might mess up and upset people…but there will always be a person who is unhappy with your writing, so why not do something that will make you a better person and writer, right? Besides…it’s fun being a different person from time to time. Even if it’s only in your head.
P.S. If you don’t like your physical appearance, and that is why you write a character the way that you write them, DM me on Twitter. I will tell you how beautiful you are.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,