Short Story: Change of Character

I would like to thank my friend Damien for this idea. His imagination causes his head to be clogged up with even more good ideas than my own. Thanks, Damien!

What if writing erases you as a person? Think about it. You create characters, places, perhaps even whole worlds...but maybe in creating all this you're destroying yourself. You are no longer you, the person. There is no such thing as the real world anymore; only the worlds that you write about exist. After all, nobody wants to know you, the person. They want to know the characters you write about.

I am a writer, a tool for my characters to use to reach into the real world, and that's all I really know about myself nowadays. The stories I have written...they have become my identity. I am no longer Jack Nixton, the person. I am no longer Jack Nixton, the writer. My characters exist more than I do: Caroline, the poor little rich girl who falls in love with her children's nanny; Darren Lithe, the aspiring astronaut with autism; Dr Kenneth Thrile, the cardiologist who does nothing but work and insult nurses...they've all replaced me. Jack Nixton is merely a name on a book cover. It's the names inside the book that people care about.

It was always something I was passionate about, writing. It used to give me the most amazing feeling - the feeling that I have written something that people can read, relate to, and perhaps even unite people together over. Used to. It used to make my heart flutter to think that eyes were roving over my ink, embracing every word, caressing ever syllable. But now...

Now writing feels like a chore, not a thrill. I no longer feel excitement when I have a new idea; to be perfectly honest I have to force the pieces together these days. I'm merely feeding the characters to the audience, making the stories appear more real, and me less so in the process.

"Jack, Jack, Jack. What is your life?"

Good question. What exactly is my life? What am I actually doing other than writing and moping at home? Why am I a thirty-six year old man with no wife, no friends, no family, no work colleagues? The only person I have in my life is my agent, but I pay him. I don't even have a love interest; I haven't been with a woman in years.

Four years later

The reason why this piece of writing just suddenly stopped was because I dropped my pen and left. I walked the streets aimlessly, trying to find the inspiration I used to experience in life. When my feet eventually stopped I looked up at the theatre and smiled. Of course.

When I was very young I had wanted to be an actor. I used to thrive onstage, for I was the centre of attention. There's just something about telling a story to a physical audience who watches your every move, who tells you there and then through expressions what their honest opinion is of your performance. This connection with the audience is something I don't feel as a writer. As an actor I am not fading from the people's eye.

And so I joined the theatre. Acting at first was scary then it became invigorating; it’s physically challenging and head-clearing. As I received advice and feedback from the directors and my fellow actors I could feel myself bloom like a rose. And that's when I met her.

She was writing an article for her magazine about the performance that was on at the theatre, and she came backstage after the show to interview us. There was a connection there and then. I don't know whether it was because we both had a passion for writing - or at least I once did - but we just clicked, as cliche as it sounds. She's been "writing articles" for every one of our performances ever since that first night.

I found the courage to ask her out on a date about a month or so after we first met, and (as is said) the rest is history. I can't help but smile as she chuckles quietly behind me, reading this over my shoulder. Life is good now. I am a person, and it can now be seen by everyone.


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