Every time I sit down and just think about the main character of my WIP, I am amazed and overwhelmed about the places my brain goes. I guess it comes with the writing territory, but the novelty has yet to wear off.
For instance, I was thinking about bodies the other night. My character’s body is an important tool to her. She has honed it, trained it, pushed it, and tested it beyond limits conceivable to me personally. With her military training and the line of work she is in, her body is a key factor in keeping her alive. Sure, she’ll have human moments and experiences in her body, but when it really comes down to it, it’s just another tool in her arsenal.
This is not the case for my body or my lived experience. Over the years I have not been very good to my body. I’ve cleaned up my act over the past 7 years and I’ve come a long way from where I started, but my body will never be able to do what my characters can; and I don’t mean just because we exist in different realities. It’s not even a mental block on my part. My body literally will not –cannot– do what hers can. I’m ok with that.
I’m happy being a writer with a day job who walks/runs/bikes 23 km on my basement equipment each week. Throw in the occasional hike and 5 K and I’m a happy camper. My character hunts and tracks in her job. She regularly fights to the death.
Beyond job requirements, she lives a life of body maintenance while I live one of healing. Ask any person who is recuperating from some sort of physical problem, they can tell you how hard healing is when you want to hit a certain physical peak.
Anyway, my point is it’s fascinating for me to use the few truly quiet moments my life affords me to put myself in my character’s skin. I imagine our physical differences and similarities inside and out and extend my thoughts to the whys and necessities of them. She must be strong and fit because her very existence depends on it. I need to be fit because it affects my quality of life. Not quite the same thing, and this effects choices down the road for her.
I couldn’t tell you if all writers do this, or whether I take my story thinking too far. Regardless, I find it fun and fascinating. Writing and reading my character will be the only time I’ll ever get close to feeling like someone who can make their body do damn near anything. Some days when I crouch down I have to convince my bad knee it’s in its best interest to get back up.