Saturday, 25 July 2015

Recurrent Fictional Characters

I read a really interesting blog post the other day, which suggested that writers tend to recreate different versions of the same character. (If I was really good at this and organised, I would have noted the relevant source so that you could read it yourself. Unfortunately, I'm not and I didn't). Anyway, it got me thinking and I have to confess that I’m guilty as charged. 

The character that appears recurrently in my writing, albeit in different forms, is the feckless mother. When my friend's husband read one of my novels, he offered the observation that the mother in it was her mother. I don't know her mother but my friend assumed that we must have mothers who are very similar. Sadly I had to disappoint her. 

I think I subconsciously created the wild and feckless mother as the one I always wanted but certainly didn't get. My own mother is a very serious woman, who doesn't drink alcohol, eat to excess, or do anything that could point to a lack of control. We have a very complex relationship. Even as an adult, I find it impossible to acknowledge any failings in her presence and I keep so much of myself hidden from her. 

It's a shame because I have a great deal to thank her for. My mother is the reason that both my sister and I are independent, successful women. She valued independence above all and it was at the core of everything she taught us. It's not hard to understand why; my mother married very young and submerged all of her own hopes and dreams into being a wife and mother. She always claimed that it was the only thing she ever wanted out of life but we all knew that she was living a lie. She loved my dad and us kids more than anything but she resented having subjugated her own life for us

A very intelligent and creative woman, my mother can turn her hand to anything. She is a talented artist and dressmaker with a real flair for design. However, she had to make do with a lifetime of hobbies and, no matter how much she tried to pretend otherwise, it wasn't enough. My mother, like so many of her generation, was a woman out of time. Had she been born a decade or so later, I have no doubt that she would have been amazing. 

She’s in her late sixties now and finally achieving some of the things I’m sure she always secretly dreamed of. She teaches literacy and numeracy to adults, who for whatever reason missed out on an education. She runs a women's group, offering a wide range of activities designed to help women feel empowered and in control of their own lives. She’s also the most well read woman I know. All this has been bitter sweet for her, as it was the death of my dad, her childhood sweetheart and the love of her life which propelled her out of the home. 

She always says that she would give up everything she has since achieved in a heartbeat to have my dad back and I believe her. She’s a strong, courageous woman and I’m really proud of her but she is not the recurrent mother figure that I write about. Maybe she should be. 

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