Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the technical name for what we laymen refer to as a “split personality”. It is a controversial diagnosis with some experts believing it is not real, or maybe even therapist induced. (Isn’t Wikipedia wonderful?) I bring this up, because I sometimes believe I may have a form of DID, though I have never seen a therapist. (I was going to say, “Where is the fun of having a mental disorder if you get it fixed?” but then I worried that someone with a real mental disorder would be offended, and yes, I think that people with mental disorders are the most likely to be reading my stuff. Whatever.)
When I’m writing, I sometimes believe that I have multiple personalities within me, all battling to get out, or at least take control of the writing process. And, most of these personalities, wait, no, all of these personalities are younger than me; healthier than me; and without a doubt, thinner and better looking than me. The sixteen year old personality is especially keen to take over. He must not have caught a look of me in the mirror yet.
It is from these disparate and distinct personalities that I form the characters that I write about in my novels. To some extent or another, everyone I write about, or maybe I should say, everyone I write for is deep down inside my id somewhere. (Damn, I am esoteric!) So, when I write about different people I am really just writing about some part of myself. I am the young, good looking, high school football star Cal; and I am also the middle aged, overweight, balding, mean and obnoxious Mr. Samuel. (Both characters from Pitch Green.)
In real life, I am not young or good looking, but neither am I mean or balding. I’m only a little obnoxious. But both of these characters are inside of me, and I only need to bring them out and put them in the story to write about them. I am not writing about people I observe, though I love to observe other people. I am writing about myself. No matter how different or unique each character is from the others, I’m there.
Of course, this begs the question: “What about the female characters you write about?” (My sons will all stop reading this right exactly at this point.) If I were really cool, and politically correct, I would claim to have female personalities along with the male personalities. But I am only cool, not politically correct, and no matter how deep you look inside of me, you will not find a woman, or even any woman-type being. My wife will confirm this.
This does not mean I cannot write for the women I write about. Women are people, (that sounds so patronizing) and we overlap enough as people that I don’t have a problem writing from a woman’s perspective. That is, as long as I have women, like my wife and daughters, who read what I write and tell me when I have it wrong.
This means, analogous with the way I write for the guys, when I write for women, I am looking out of their eyes at the world that is being created for them. So, if I’m not part woman, (and there are a few bullies from my high school days who would claim that I am), the women that I write about are part me. (I told you I was esoteric.)
The way this works, evidently, is that the guys I write for are all looking out my eyes as I write for them, but as I write for the women, I am the one looking out of their eyes. Weird, huh? But, that is the way it works, and for me, it works pretty well.Whether or not this means I have DID, I don’t know, though it is probably indicative of a need to at least go to therapy. Yea, well, I’m still not going. Why mess with all those extra personalities? I need them when I’m developing new characters. After all, that’s how I write.