For ordinary people, not celebrities or people whose lives revolve round their own image, it’s really difficult to actually see yourself as others do, physically as well as in terms of personality. I always thought of myself as quite plump, fat, actually, but looking back to pictures of myself I was a stocky child, and a muscular teenager, and then just an average woman…
When I was sixteen and we were about to leave Cambridge my sister and I had a party for our friends and I went out to buy a new dress (unusual because my mum made most of my clothes) I saw this dress and fell in love with it. The top was orange with yellow spots, the rest was yellow with orange spots; it had narrow orange straps, was A-line so close-fitting round the bust but fuller on the rest of it… I thought I looked fabulous, my mum was less enthusiastic, but it didn’t put me off… I loved every moment of wearing it… and it’s only now looking back that I see what my mum meant, it didn’t suit me at all, but in every picture I have this big, happy grin so in actual fact it didn’t matter!
It’s not just appearance, it’s how we behave; if I look back, there have been times when I thought I was being funny, or just being a bit silly, when maybe others thought I was really annoying, irritating, infantile and perhaps, (gulp) a bit rude. However self-aware you are, I’m sure you can’t really see yourself accurately. Maybe I’m different now… maybe!
The point is, none of us know; however, when we’re writing we are in control of our characters – we know what they look like, we know what others think of the way they look. We know what they’re thinking and their motives, and we know what others think of them and their actions… we, the writers are in control… or are we? I’m in the final stages of editing my next novel, Lucky Portbraddon, and I’m very lucky myself that my husband is reading it for me. I try to restrain myself and not keep asking what he thinks of this or that, character, action, scene etc… but the couple of comments he’s made make me realise and remember, that of course the reader has their own version of what is there – and that maybe different from the writer’s
If you haven’t read my other books yet, here is a link: