THE WRITER’S LIFE
I suppose it was partly to do with my curiosity: my ongoing one, with myself; and the deeper one, of the human condition. When I sometimes find it difficult to separate fact from fiction, yet I find the latter the greater comfort; when I can occupy my characters, so that they speak more than their own lines; and when I know them better than many friends who are not myself, I thought it might be interesting to meet up with one of my leading roles. So I popped in to see Simon Fry, six months after Cyrus Song…
I knew I was at the right place because it looked familiar. The man who answered the door though, didn’t look entirely as I’d expected, even though I’d written him. “Come in,” he said, beckoning with his head.
I was having dinner with Simon Fry, a character I created for Cyrus Song, and I wanted to know how all that had gone for him. His flat was just as I’d left it inside, as I always knew the furniture wouldn’t fit any other way.
I hadn’t given Simon sufficient recognition for his looks in the book, as he was a person very aware of his appearance but without a particularly high opinion of himself. Now that I saw him, he was quite striking. I wondered how things had worked out with Hannah since the book.
“Are you planning a sequel?” Simon wondered, which was one of the things I wanted to ask him about. “Because,” he continued, “I’m wondering whether to hang around waiting for you, or just get on with things.” I had to assume this was a shared sense of humour in an otherwise quite surreal situation.
“I wondered pretty much exactly the same,” I replied, “whether you’d just get on with life after I left you.”
“A strong character doesn’t need the writer to carry them along all the time. If the writer’s good enough, they’ve put enough into that character to make them come to life in a story.”
“Well I’ve got your whole life story in a separate notebook. Very little of it is in Cyrus Song but it was only by knowing you that I was able to convey your story so plausibly. It’s all in what’s not written.”
“Every story,” Simon said, “is where memories go when they’re forgotten.”
“Did you say that or did I?”
“Both of us I suppose. Strange isn’t it?”
“In a nice way,” I agreed. I wondered if it might be worth letting Simon flip the table on me, and let him write my story. I’m more comfortable inside one of my characters anyway.
“I suppose you’re wondering,” Simon wondered, “about Hannah.” I wasn’t sure if I was.
“How is she?” It seemed the most obvious thing to say. I didn’t know the answer to expect, let alone how to respond to any.
“Last time I checked, she was fine.” He seemed to be leading me.
“When was that?”
“I thought you might ask, seeing as her doctorate was in human psychology, before we started talking with the animals.” Funny that. It just goes to show what happens when you talk to a friend who can relate to you. They can give you the answer, without you having to ask.
So that’s the weekend sorted. I might carry this on, as it could help both me and Mr Fry work out how we use the perfectly plausible answer to life, the universe and everything in our book.