Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Casting Couch

A few years back, when I still lived in Oxfordshire, a friend of mine and I took a train out to Stratford-upon-Avon and played mini-golf. As you do. At one stage we were sitting in a little English pub, and we were...well, I won't say "chatting," exactly, because I was going through a major depressive episode and I am extremely hard to deal with in that state. My poor friend, bless her heart, did her best to break me out of my funk, and to this day I am very, very lucky to continue to have her as a friend. (It just breaks my heart to know that when I get back to the UK she'll be in Chicago rather than Cambridge, but with that said...hey, an excuse to visit Chicago!) But while we were drinking in this pub, I remember her saying something to me along the lines of: "Claire, you do realise that not everyone has casts of characters in their head like you do?"

I don't remember the exact context of this comment, but it was a compliment of sorts -- or at least, that is how I took it. I suffer regularly from a crippling sense of pointlessness, and feel that I have no talents and therefore no worth to the world. My dear friend, who met me through my writing, was trying to convince me otherwise. And I was thinking of that yesterday during a phone call. Now, even though my characters' voices are very loud in my head, they don't generally argue with me outside the context of their stories. However, every now and then they will make a commentary on my day-to-day life. Yesterday I was on the phone to a doctor regarding a rather nasty prescription, and and it turned out the doctor himself was a rather nasty piece of work too. (Think of that joke that goes "what's the difference between god and a doctor?" and you'll get the idea.) I am used to this sort of thing, yes, but he really took the cake (probably a good thing, or I'd have eaten it). But I got some amusement out of the whole debacle when Viola Morgan suddenly leaned down in my ear and whispered with terrible, terrible irony and amusement: "Now honey, that is a doctor!"

Viola Morgan is a surgeon. A terrible, terrible surgeon, and I mean that in the sense she's terrible because she's too bloody good at her job. Although she's not a serial killer...exactly. Ha. Oh, Morgan. She's a curious character all around, that one. She was meant to be something like Niles Frasier's wife Maris -- commented upon, discussed even, but never ever seen. She was just going to be Baedeker's terrifying trophy wife of convenience and nothing more. Of course, this was when what would become The Juniper Bones was a solitary short story involving two men who could both beat the snot out of one another and enjoy it (the first rule of Fight Club is...), so...er. Yeah.

She actually likes wearing pink. I think that fact alone terrifies Eliot more than anything else about her. Ha. Oh, yes, Morgan is my very favourite Ensemble Darkhorse, even though her presence in the story has made everything rather exceedingly complicated. But then, this harks back to the Cast In My Head thing -- they really do whatever they damn well please, and Morgan more than anyone else. But then, I am a pharmacist and she is a doctor, so perhaps that is just the way of these things.

...oh, crap.

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