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Lightbulb Moment

Last night I had a light bulb moment. I don’t have many of those so it crept up and surprised me!

Context: I’ve been doing an online writing course with Future Learn, which has been very enjoyable and has kept my writing muscles lubricated while the novel has taken a back seat – it’s not flowing at the moment and I was getting cross with it so we both needed a break from each other. The exercise I had just done involved creating a character and then experimenting with different methods of revealing that character – through summary, appearance etc. I duly created a character and started to flesh her out. So far, so good.

Then last night came the light bulb moment. It suddenly struck me that the character I had created was the person I secretly wanted to be. She was the alter-ego me, the person I wished I was. This sucked the air out of my body and flung me backwards. To be confronted with this shadow me was a shock. Where had she been all my life?And what did this mean about the actual life I am living?

The first shock was that without thinking about it I had created a person that I wished I was more like. I’ve always felt fairly comfortable being me and when asked I say that I have no regrets because if I regret actions in the past then it would change the life I have now, which is happy. So why do I have this other woman, this other me in my head?

Then I realised that this other me was the result of differing decisions in my past. If I had done things differently my life might have been more like hers. So what does this tell me about my life now? Am I not as happy and content as I thought I was?

Serious stuff, eh? Actually I think that what it shows me is that my imagination, creative side is active and has been for a long time. If I think back to my early 20s that was the time when I made decisions that shaped who I am and the life I have now. The character I created is an example of how things could have been if I’d done things a little differently but she’s essentially me in a different costume. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better!

Which has got me thinking – how many other ‘mes’ can I create by altering a few aspects of my life? And what change would be a step too far?

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5 thoughts on “Lightbulb Moment”

  1. Really interesting post. I have discovered loads about myself through writing – especially through characters who I had no idea had anything to do with me! I actually think it's one of the very best things about writing generally – the ability to live all these other lives vicariously through your characters. And that's why, despite questionable decisions I might have made in the past, I'm very happy with where I'm at right now πŸ™‚ xx

  2. Really thought-provoking, Jo. Just the other day I was playing out a 'what if…' scenario in my head – a kind of parallel universe thing, really (since I can't explore it in this reality) and before I knew it, I was writing it into a story (only in my head so far but it will reach paper at some point!). I think that's one of the great things about being a writer – the 'what if's' can be fleshed out and we can make all sorts of exciting discoveries that way. We can get a little of the taste of what we can't have, or what could have been, or what we still might have if we made changes. Hope you enjoy getting to know alternative you! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  3. I agree, living other lives from the safety of my lounge is the best bit of writing. Inventing interesting people and putting them into different situations keeps me on my toes at times but it's so much easier than trying to live a hundred different lives myself!

  4. I love doing the 'what if' thing! So satisfying to pop a character into an unusual situation and seeing what they do – safer than doing it myself too! The alternate 'me' has yet to find a home but I'm sure in the future I'll tell her story…

  5. Ah, they say every novel is a little bit biographical (or something like that). I think we can't help but pour a little of ourselves (as we are, or as we'd like to be!) into our work. I definitely have written better versions of myself many times, as well as touching on the darker side… Writing is a great way to get to know all the different parts of ourselves, as they slip into our stories, don't you think..? πŸ™‚

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