I started today thinking about how my writer friends all have a tendency to lose themselves in whatever is the topic/interest of the moment. I'm specifically thinking of someone who recently spent a day researching Jane Austen. For no reason.
This random knowledge always comes back somewhere.
My stories have grown with me. Some are mere outlines waiting for me to pay them attention (the serial killer and the journalist; the ugly inner workings of a non-profit The Devil Wears Prada style). Others have influenced who I am.
Sometimes I can just research that tidbit I need and let it go, but other times these bits of information stick to me. I find myself approaching my 35th birthday with the alter-ego of a 50-year-old (straight, male) French fashion designer. And I really wish I could own my own French fashion house, but even though I could theoretically become French, I will never have the ability to sew...
This got me revisiting a familiar thought of mine. Each of my characters represents a different part of me.
Adelaide: my naive, lost side that always lacks confidence and feels like I'm failing.
Basilie: my smart, bitchy self
Étienne: my artsy, easygoing, charming self (the self I really want to be)
Galen: my selfish, mean self
Flidais: my powerful yet defiant self
In other stories I have alter-selfs that are more obvious. The housewife who buys herself a new outfit at Saks and cheats on her husband, for one. I have never done what she did, but her actions stem from exactly the ennui I experienced a few years ago. I can't imagine a writer who doesn't use their characters to do the things we really want to do but never would... That's part of the fun.