I've never been much of a Halloween person, at least as an adult. Maybe it's because I can't eat the candy, maybe it's because my kids struggle with real terror every year as people they know change into monsters right before their eyes, or maybe I'm just plain boring. What ever it is, it's almost Halloween and masks are appearing everywhere--in the grocery store, at the playground, at writer's conferences. They even gave us some. Mine is a sparkly green one.
As the speakers at the conference talked about masks, I realized they were right. Writers wear masks. Lots and lots of masks. Every time I sit down at the computer to work on my story, I don a different character's mask. I may be a twelve-year-old boy fighting a dragon, or I may be an eighteen-year-old girl who sees the future, or even a really disturbed psycho who has way too many people's identities stuck in his head.
It's like these masks by Morgan Hersey:
Each one is different. Each one has it's own personality, history, and mood. And, for me, that's what happens when I write. I place the character's emotions, and history, and attitude over my own for a time. I wear them. I become them. At least if I let myself.
Sometimes it's hard to descend into someone's emotions. I mean, who wants to be a grieving father, or a love-struck palace guard who knows his feelings aren't returned? Sometimes I just want to take all the masks and put them in the drawer and just be me. But I always come back. Every time. Maybe I do like Halloween after all. Maybe I live it every day.
If you want to see more of Morgan's masks here's her website. http://www.masksbymorgan.com/