The Character Has to Know You

By: Emilio Merlina (I do not own rights to image)

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

– Kahlil Gibran

I went on a trip to Guatemala to discover the “writer’s life”. The kind where the author is a bestselling author, lives in a penthouse, and gets meal deliveries daily. While I was there this woman with disparate eyes (green and brown) asked me, why I was there? Why did I get lost? How did I get lost? In other words, what was the purpose of my trip? I told her the same as I’ve told you, to discover the writer’s life. And, to her dissatisfaction, she said, “I mean well…yeah, but you’ve got to be here for something, aren’t you lost?”

I replied verbally, “No”. But, in my head, I’m like, I’m in San Marcos, Guatemala and it’s currently 3:52 pm, which is a two-hour earlier difference between here and Philly. But, it’s funny how you can be lost despite the knowledge of your location. Now, I sit here writing characters who have no flaws. Their suffering damn near unknown to them. Can you suffer if you’re receptive to it? I’ve got to peel back layers of me to see what’s not normal to my characters. What went wrong to make them strong?

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