Character Diaries

It’s pretty strange, but it’s hard for me to keep a personal diary. It’s not for lack of things to write about, but rather a tendency to not want those things I need to talk about to get cast into the archives of the eternal internet, to forever be cached by Google. Thoughts, when I have them, are never static. However, I do like the idea of diaries. For years I’ve been keeping them- for my characters. They talk to me and I write it down. I have hundreds of these little vignettes.

I haven’t gone back to read any of them in a long time. Tonight, for a lark, and because I was trying to think of another idea for a short story, I opened the folder where I’d stashed them all away. It was really interesting, to read what my characters had been thinking at that time in my life. I remember exactly what was going on in my own life by the very words I’d chosen. Some of them are melodramatic, some pornographic, some anxious or excited. Nearly all are unpublishable. But they remind me of the little ideas I had here and there, and have given me the groundwork for a few more short stories, should the opportunity present itself.

Below is an excerpt of one of those diaries. It is written from the perspective of Aoitori, one of my Dream Weavers. He is a being charged with composing dreams of the good variety, and usually visits children. His name means “Bluebird” in Japanese. He is a derivative of a stronger character, known as Kuroitori, the “Blackbird.” Kuroitori’s task is to weave the nightmares of our subconscious.

“The first drifts of snow reached my garden this morning. The frost killed the daffodils, bathed the stems of the roses in frostbite. For all of my power the garden has begun to shift, its beauty receding to darkness, the shadow of the late seasons poisoning the vibrant life it once held. The pond has iced over, killed the lilies of soft pinks and purples, left the koi to die in unnatural preservation under the chill.

The far eastern corner of the garden I have long avoided, determined to not be the bringer of nightmare and misfortune. The child that once found me beautiful has forgotten me, as imaginary friends often are, and the house that he dreamed up has turned to ash without even a glimpse of memory. Such is my life; the children grow older and their minds become more ‘rational.’ They can not be troubled with fantasies that are as preposterous as imagined dreams. Is that what I am? A ridiculous phase better forgotten as quickly as possible?

The Shadow calls me… it wishes for me to remind the world of my wrath, but I fear its call. I remain by the pond, my fingers tracing the rivulets of water that are frozen mid-current, and I wait for the inevitable disease that will devour me and bring me into those rational, frightfully dark minds of older beings. I will bear witness to the worst of the world’s fears, rages and anxieties when that time comes, so, for now, I pray the winter be a short one, and that a new garden will bloom soon, for this one is brittle and near its breaking point. When it is gone, I will have nothing except the blackbird, Kuroitori… my darker ego, the Night Bringer.”

It, of course, is not something that is publishable in such a state, but it was a nice window into the character’s mind. I learn a lot from my characters doing these sorts of exercises. If you are a writer, do you do similar practices?