I hear voices in my head.
No, they aren't telling me to kill the neighbors or set the cat on fire. They aren't even telling me I'm stupid, won't amount to anything or other negative things. These voices don't belong to demons, or angels, or even deceased family members.
The voices are characters, who tell me the stories that I write. If I don't pay attention to what they say and I take the story in a different direction, they stop talking to me, and I find myself in writer's block... for that story.
For me, characters start as little more than a shadowy form. Maybe I know right away what their hair color or eye color is, maybe that comes later. Sometimes I know where their story occurs, maybe even that isn't clear. So I could start with as little as a shadow standing in a fog. How can I possibly write anything about that? (Hmm, that could be an interesting opening. I'll have to think about that.)
So, each character lurks in the dark recesses of my mind at first, and they begin to whisper things about themselves to me. I don't consciously hear the whispers, but they lodge in my subconscious, and slowly, the picture begins to clear.
"Hi! I'm Colleen MacDowell, call me Mac. Yeah, you've given me red hair, but mine's more fire engine red than carroty or auburn, so fix that, would you? I'm short, but extremely strong, because I'm from a heavy world. If a guy gets fresh, I'm likely to deck him. And that's landed me in the brig a few times. Bugalu was my brother's roommate at the Academy, and he adopted me as a little sister in order to help my real brother keep me out of trouble. Believe me, getting myself assigned to the same ship as Bugalu was NOT easy!"
"People call me Kandi, although my name is Kandaranna. I was raised by a family of Sioux in South Dakota. I had black hair, but my white skin and blue eyes said I didn't belong. Pa sent me to Chihuahua, to an Amerind school to learn the old ways, which didn't make sense to me. Eventually, I joined the Space Fleet. On my first assignment, our crew was investigating an abandoned derelict of alien design. That ship kidnapped me, claimed I was the child of its original crew. We've been looking for my parents ever since. Oh, yeah. My hair stayed black while I was trying to pass as human, but I've learned it can also go white... or any shade of purple in between."
So, once I know that much about a character, they stop whispering and we start their story. Occasionally, they surprise me with a tidbit they hadn't revealed before. For instance, Mac took ballet lessons!
The way I see it, if I didn't hear voices in my head, I wouldn't be able to write stories. And sometimes, my characters are the only company I need.
Do you hear voices?