I’ve been polishing my nails lately.
My protagonist in the manuscript I’m just about ready to send to my agent is into manicures. The rest of the women in her family are great beauties and she believes she’s plain. The one feature she takes pride in is her hands. Like her, I get complimented on my hands, but I don’t share the same feelings about my looks and my hands (just for the record).
When I was younger (junior high into my twenties) I kept my nails long and polished. But somewhere along the way I got bored with the upkeep, and over the years I grew to hate long nails. Every now and then, like before a book signing or a vacation, I’d polish my fingernails or get a manicure (always in a white or pale pink French-type look).
But since Rae is into painting her nails, I’ve been painting my nails. I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of having little pops of color at the end of my fingertips. Right now they are a shimmering fuchsia. Up next is a Michelle Obama-inspired blue-gray called “Chic.” And I am totally going to do a keyboard manicure one day.
I wish I could call it method writing, but it’s not that intentional. I didn’t paint my nails to get a more accurate sense of how to describe it in my book (though that definitely happened). Just somehow along the way I’ve started to exhibit this aspect of her character. I did this with characters in my other novels too (especially becoming more of a gardener as I wrote about gardening).
I know I’m creating these characters and I know they are coming from parts of me that already exist, but it also feels like I get influenced by them and learn from them. Not only do my characters evolve as I write them, but I do as well. I’ve heard lots of stories of actors getting caught up in their roles. It seems writers can too. Thank goodness I don’t write about serial killer or vampires!
What about you? Do you ever find yourself acting like your characters?