As a writer, I try keep my worlds separate: the make believe world of my novels and the reality of my real life. Sometimes, I am inspired by real world things and create make believe worlds out of that inspiration.
When I started Barfly, I was inspired by the song “Barfly” by Ray Lamontagne. I named the novel after that song. The lyrics just painted this picture of a woman in my head. A woman who’s story needed to be told. I just didn’t know what her story was going to be, but I knew what I wanted the first chapter to say and how I wanted it to feel. Even though I didn’t have a full idea of what I wanted the novel to be about, I did know that she sees the most beautiful person on the planet and falls head over heels. As the writer, I couldn’t see him. No matter how hard I looked, imagined, or so on. Her most beautiful person just didn’t exist in my mind.
Then one day I, out of the blue, I look across a room and see a man in a suit. Hello, I just saw my character’s most beautiful person on the planet. What’s he like? What does he do? Who is he? I ask these questions not for me, but for my character.
As the novel reveals itself to me in bits and pieces through this image I have etched into my head, I create what type of person he is, what he does, what he likes and so on.
I don’t know this person or anything about him. I only know him as the character I have created for my novel.
Reality will get me every time.
Man in suit becomes a man I meet for a brief moment. I had sick feeling in my stomach because I didn’t want what my character had become to be tarnished by reality. It would have have sucked big time. I rather liked my character. I compare it to meeting your favorite band and having them turn out to be dicks. Makes me like the band less.
But I walked away from my brief encounter happy. Character was not ruined.
Listening to “Kite” by U2