I’m a method writer. I discovered this just last week while pouring over a fascinating article on how to perform a blood sacrifice in voodoo. The author of the article did go on to offer to perform the sacrifice for you using only the finest black ram or white ewe (depends on what kind of help you need, you see) – for a fee which read somewhat like the price list at a sea food restaurant –Market Price Only! – which I took to have something to do with what kind of help you were hoping for. Love is cheap, revenge will cost you. I’m reading along, really intrigued, when I realized that I’m like Christian Bale. The only reason he had that major fit was because he was still in character!
Once I begin to work on a character and a story I inhabit that story so fully that it borders on compulsion. In my last manuscript my heroine was a neo-burlesque dancer and after inhabiting her world I am perfectly comfortable discussing the four methods of pastie adherence and removal and have done so with my neighbor the transvestite more than once. Right now I’m writing about a florist who casts spells on her creations to help people. I took my kids to the park to play and had a really embarrassing moment when one of the dads standing around watching the toddlers bash each other with the swings walked up and presented me with a page that had fallen out of the book I was reading. He held it up and then read it out loud at the volume only a man can achieve “Witchcraft in Yorkshire. Hmmm. Is this yours?”
I think method actors must make their families nuts. You just never know who is coming home for dinner. Will it be Christian Bale or Batman? Similarly, I must drive my family nuts. I get so deep into my characters that at times I forget they are not actually people I know. My daughter asked me just the other day if she would ever get to meet ShaSha – my neo-burlesque heroine. “Um, honey, no. Mommy just made her up. She’s like an invisible friend!” My husband actually came home one day to find me crying because I’d burned down a historic theatre. I’m sobbing away, “but where will ShaSha put on her show?” My husband’s rote answer to these things is to pour me a glass of wine.
Is all this deep work healthy? I don’t know. I like to think it gives my characters a very vivid ring that makes them seem real. One of my dear friends always reads my first drafts. When she got done with one of them she actually found herself staring up at the buildings on a particular block of Peachtree Street wondering which one was the hero’s office building.
If I come out of my current story able to make elaborate floral arrangements and change people’s lives for the better I’ll let you know. I’m going to draw the line at practicing voodoo. Unless I come across a spell for selling a book. Then all bets are off!