I'm working on a series of short stories that deal with troubled, dysfunctional, or characters on the fringe of society. My former life as an actor has prepared me to create characters from the ground up, during improvisational exercises, but acting was a group activity. Writing is a solitary act, and as such can leave me vulnerable to voices, sights, sounds, and memories that build the foundation of fictional characters and the world they lead me to create.
I'd never given much thought to depression or mental illness as an artist despite the number of people who suffer. I won't say afflicted, perhaps because it sounds biblical or like an elective surgery. However, what I've felt time and again comes close to Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, when he says, "I see dead people."
I don't really see dead people, but I can connect to and identify with characters young and old, rich or people, black or white, as I sit at the computer or when one of them wakes me in the middle of the night.
I've also discovered that it's harder to murder your darlings in writing. One such female character refuses to die. She dances on the edge of my reality, having taken her lessons from Salome or Cleopatra. She wasn't working in the story no matter how hard I tried to accommodate her and the other characters. The only solution is to showcase her in a new story in all her cunning, deceptive glory.
It's my hope that readers will identify with the characters I create on the page and screen. I don't wish the creative process on the uninitiated.