Over the years, I've met hundreds of characters: human, animal, and alien. Each one has a name, a back story, a family, a way of life, a personality.
I say "met" because they come to me, sometimes in dreams, sometimes when I'm doing dishes. What I mean is, I feel like they already existed when I met them. They are the ones who deemed me worthy enough to allow me to get to know them.
Some of them I've drawn, some I've asked others to draw, some of them I've put on a shelf like a plaything and returned to years later, and others have been left to themselves to
gather dust in the recesses of my mind.
Like real people, they make me laugh and cry. I rejoice with them in their successes and almost yank my hair out in sympathetic frustration at their failures. I mourn their losses with them and help them along when they struggle.
Many of their life-stories intertwine, weaving a tapestry in my mind, and it's hard to know where to start sometimes. If I choose to follow one thread over another, somewhere along the way I have to ask the character I'm speaking for, for guidance.
"Which direction do you want me to go? Do you want me to follow you some more, or would your life be better explained through the guy who stood behind you in that coffee shop?"
Sometimes they don't have an answer. In those cases, I'm left to figure it out for myself and that can get overwhelming and scary. I have a hard time telling my own story, let alone theirs. How am I supposed to know which piece to tell next?
It's like someone made puzzles of that tapestry and they're all in one giant puzzle box with the pieces all mixed together. The pieces don't belong to one puzzle in particular. The center piece from puzzle A also fits in a corner of puzzle B. The piece beside that fits in puzzle C facing this way and in puzzle D facing that way, and if you turn it on its side, it fits in puzzle E quite nicely.
I feel like I need some spring cleaning in my head. I can't possibly give each character it's due credit until I can sort these things out and cross-reference them. Otherwise, someone will be left out, and they're all too important to be forgotten.
Each one deserves to have their story told. They're just as real as you and me. They're more than just words on a page; they're my friends, my family.