An Open Letter to My Unwritten Characters

Dear Main Characters from the novels I never finished,

This is, I suppose, an apology. I created you after all, I put pen to paper, although in this day and age, it’s fingers to keys, I gave you names and faces, clothes and lives.

And then I abandoned you.

I won’t pretend that I remember all of your names, that would just be insulting to the both of us, wouldn’t it? To be honest, I changed some of them so many times anyway. One of you was definitely called Chris. No, I don’t know why either.

I should let you know how I’m doing. I’m doing alright, thanks. I’ve got a new main character – let’s get that out of the way as soon as possible. He’s nice. He’s called Nicholas and he’s a kid. It’s not weird. I have a grasp on him. More than I ever did with you guys, and that’s not to say that you weren’t interesting or fully developed enough. I think with time we could have done really well together. I could have given you proper arcs and twists and turns, and in the end, we could have been happy.

But it just didn’t work out.

I do still think about you sometimes. I wonder where you would have taken that talking corpse, what you would have done when you got a job in the call centre. How you would have escaped from the island of celebrities. Sometimes those little stories I left hanging come back to haunt me and I think: what if?

I’m not coming back to you. I think it’s healthier that way. There’s just so much baggage that goes with revisiting your abandoned works isn’t there? I cringe when I look back on old drafts, thinking to myself, what on earth was I doing? Why the hell did I keep writing about your pet hamster? What was the point?

We’re all older now. Well, I am. You’re probably still exactly the same.

I wonder if you’re right where I left you. Mid-sentence. Mid-story. I wonder if I went back to you, I’d find you sitting on the platform of that station I left you on. Or holding onto that door handle. Or paused in the middle of your kitchen, kettle pouring boiling water into a mug forever.

I’m writing this now because things between me and Nicholas are about to get really tough. You’ve got to put your characters through a ton of shit, that’s what people say isn’t it? You’ve got to get them to their lowest point before you know who they really are, and me and Nicholas need to know who he really is right now. I never got to do this with you, and for that I’m sorry. You never really understood your purpose. You never really got to see yourself for who you really are.

I hope you’re doing well though.

I’m sure, like you always do, you’ll drop me a line when I least expect it.



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