Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Setting my Characters Free - by Misha Herwin




A scene from "Where There's a Will" 

When I was a drama teacher I regularly wrote the school play. I also produced and directed it, because I believed that every kid who wanted to be in it should have a part and there were few, if any, plays suitable for kids and family audiences with sixty, or even eighty speaking parts.
Being a one woman department, I was also in charge of publicity and such minor matters as the programme. 
This time I did remember my name. 
One year I was shown the mock-up of the programme and asked to give my approval, which I duly did. An hour or so later, a kind member of the office staff, who was in charge of photocopying the programme pointed out that although I had mentioned everyone else involved, I had forgotten to put my own name.

Not out of modesty, but simply that it hadn’t seemed to be important, because at that stage what mattered was the play and the play had taken on a life of its own. It was no longer something that I was doing - it existed in its own right.

Which is very much how I feel about my books. Once they are written, the stories and more importantly the characters are out there in the world and they no longer belong in any way to me, they simply are.

Of course readers might see them differently from the way I do, but we all view people through the lens of our history, experience and gender.

Launch a book and it has gone like a ship out onto the ocean to deal with whatever perils await it there.

But what happens when there is no book? When the characters exist only in a file on the computer?
My urge then is to liberate them too and this is why I hate the idea of un-published work. If something is as good as it can be, then I want my characters to live and to live they must be shared with readers.

If I were a visual artist, then people would see my work, a musician they would hear it, as a writer however it has to be made into a book, either in physical or digital form.

This is why self-publishing is such a joy. I don’t mean because I can put anything I want out there, but because if a book cannot find a publisher, and many books however good, never do, then my characters and their lives will not be trapped forever in limbo but can still be given the chance to be liberated into  existence.

AI seem to be sprouting wings. A good metaphor for this blog, maybe?



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ha ha I can't believe you forgot your own name on the programme! That shows true dedication and selflessness but I'm glad someone else was looking out for you. Great title for a play about Shakespeare, too.

I agree about self-publishing. Having created a story and characters you think people will love, why not get it out there? Publishers are so dominated by market considerations, they often end up with a blinkered view of what will sell. We have to change that!

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