Sunday, September 19, 2010

Physical Crossover

William Butler Yeats got involved in his writing.  Physically.  He tells of an embarrassing day: 
"I had a study with a window opposite some window of [my stout stupid neighbor's], and one night when I was writing I heard voices full of derision and saw the stout woman and her family standing in the window.  I have a way of acting what I write and speaking it aloud without knowing what I am doing.  Perhaps I was on my hands and knees, or looking down over the back of a chair talking into what I imagined an abyss." (WBY Reveries Over Childhood and Youth)
I don't imagine that most writers act-out to that degree, but I know that I act-out at least a little.  Usually I notice myself mimicking certain head motions and facial expressions of my characters.  I don't find that strange.  My characters are a part of me, and I am a part of them:  we stir each other in the act of creation.

Acting-out also occurs when reading a novel.  In that case, another author has created characters that are so real to me that I can relate as if they are real people -- as real as the people I create myself (which is very real indeed).  I know (or think I know) their motivations, their passions, their worries, their fears, their goals, their disappointments, and what will make them happy or upset.  I know these things as well as I know myself, if the writer has done her job in the writing and I have done mine in the reading.

And that is a wonderful thing.


  1. I can often be heard talking out loud when I write. I have to hear the dialogue to make sure it works. I also move into certain positions to make sure they're possible, and I perform gestures over and over until a way to describe them comes to me.

    And I think it's all perfectly normal!!!