Monday, August 16, 2010

Fat Bastard Syndrome

I remember watching an interview with Mike Meyers a few years ago in which he talked about playing Fat Bastard. Mike is one of those actors who gets completely obsessed with (and possessed by) his characters. He never breaks character off camera, or even at home...

He said that everyone on set hated him because he was so disgusting in appearance, stench, and personality. They hated him because there was no evidence of Mike anywhere beneath the rubber suit and the repulsive behavior. Even his wife hated living with Fat Bastard. Who can blame her? When Mike came home he was out of costume and makeup, but he wasn't out of character.

Writing fiction is like that for me. I live every minute of every day in the world of my characters. I dress like they do, listen to the music they do, pick up their slang and speech patterns, even their accents, and I talk about them like I've spent the day with them, which, of course, I have.

I'm sure Fat Bastard Syndrome gets annoying for my family and friends. In fact, I know it stinks, sometimes. But the thing is, that's what I have to do; I find it impossible to write without it. Fortunately, they love me so they just wait for it to be over.
“If you go to inordinate length to explore and discover and bring a world to life, it makes better sense to stay in that world rather than jump in and out of it, which I find exhausting and difficult." Daniel Day-Lewis
It's true that I've always been an all-or-nothing-at-all person. I've always bounced from one end of the spectrum to the other, no matter what it is I'm creating. It's the way I am, my M.O., if you will. I like myself that way because, truthfully, it's damned fun. I've just come out of a 17-year trek through an arid nowhere land during which I created next to nothing. Chronic illness, parental caretaking, abuse, and deaths all worked together to bury me, but now I'm creative again. I feel resurrected from the dead, that I have my whole life ahead of me. As Fred in Spamalot sings, "I'm not dead yet!" Until I am, I'll be living in character when I'm writing.

Yesterday I posted a quote by A. Victoria Mixon. I think it bears repeating:
"...focus on your protagonist(s) and make them the most interesting, human, multi-faceted, deeply motivated character(s) you possibly can. Give them intense, overriding needs: finding love, fighting danger, restoring justice to an unjust world. They will tell you what their story is about. Create a rock-solid plotline out of that. An unexpected hook. Hair-raising conflicts and complications. A climax like electrocution. You know the drill. Then spend a long, long, long, loooooong time enjoying every minute of writing that story scene-by-scene, development-by-development. Luxuriate in it. Wallow in it. Fill your mind with your imaginary universe, roll around in it, get it all over you."
"Get it all over you" ... even if it stinks.