I used to think that authors were exaggerating when they would reply, “You’ll have to ask the characters themselves” when a reader would ask them a question about why whoever in the book did such and such a thing.
That was before I started writing a book of my own.
Now, I understand, because whether the writing is actually good or not, I have found that this book takes up most of my thinking space. I’m basically obsessed with my own story, as self-involved as that sounds. Whenever I am writing, I picture my main character sitting next to me on the floor, cross-legged and pleading, “Lena! Please write my story! I want the world to know.” And while at some points I feel like my character is my own person that I created, he’s actually more of a best friend of sorts that I met a month ago telling me his life story, because in a lot of ways he’s his own person. While I like putting bits of my thoughts or emotions or memories into a character’s story, he does things that I would never do. We are separate, and maybe that’s why he is such a vivid figment of my imagination.
So, to those authors that replied with, “You’ll have to ask them yourself” whom I rolled my eyes at, I understand now. Because if I was asked why my main character did such and such a thing or felt such and such a way, the truth is that the answer would occasionally be that he told me that was how things went down or that’s how he felt in his story as he took another sip of coffee on my bedroom floor, and that’s just all there is to it.