Skip to main content

Every morning or afternoon or evening, I do a session of prompt-based free writing. And often in those, people emerge, people I’ve never met, like fragments of a strange dream.

I save up all these doodles, and once in a while, I glance through them. I meet new people each time people I’d forgotten about. This is who I found today, tucked in a file from way back in 2009:

For the longest time I wanted to hide. I wanted to stay surrounded by dirty dishes, overflowing ashtrays, empty beer cans and pizza cartons. My household, despite seventeen years of marriage, began to resemble a pad, a bachelor pad for a gang of rough types. I locked my huge mahogany door, unplugged my television, disconnected my telephone, my internet, switched off the cell phone and talked to nobody. I sent away the maid when she came knocking. I sat and shivered under a threadbare blanket on the living room sofa, and munched on Oreos.

I looked at myself naked in the mirror, my shriveled forty nine year old body with the breasts of a teenager, glossy and round, with nipples like drooping cactus flowers. Maybe this is why I suffered. For taking too much care of a few things, and of others, not enough.

I don’t know who she is, her name, where she lives, and out of the blue, today I want to find out.

Do you have days like this as a writer, when you meet a person from your imagination, long forgotten in a folder? As a reader do you ever wonder where the characters you read about come from?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

27 Comments

  • She's interesting and seems to be on the brink of a mental break-down. She want's to start over.

  • As I read this post this morning after I had seen your 1+ for my poem Enamored. I honestly had to read several comments to realize you were not referring to checking on an author whose work you had read in the past rather a character you had envisioned and set aside. Interesting perspective that a character exists awaits you to breath life into their existence. Although Enamored is not one of my favorite pieces as it lacks the raw emotions I prefer to invoke I thank you for your 1+ and enjoyed this insight.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    Isn't that the fun part–finding out who these people are and what they do in their lives. I believe they're out there waiting for writers like you to give them the story they need.

  • D Biswas says:

    Thanks, Eva. She does have a story, but I haven't dreamt the rest of it yet :).

  • Eva Prokop says:

    What a fantastic idea! I want to know more about this woman. I think she needs a story.

  • We meet those at the time and place that benefits the pair the most. I met a young boy for a fishing story a while ago. He agreed to wait and soon we shall get together again to tell his story. Yes, it happens. It's just that not everyone notices, or believes.

    • D Biswas says:

      Dean, yes, we meet all these people, these members of our fictive dreams, and no one believes we met them.

  • Mina Burrows says:

    Wonderful piece. And yes. Some characters just haunt us, don't they?

  • A woman with a 49 year old body with breasts of a teenager and cactus blooming on the breasts will suffer and has suffered.

    Wonderful fiction.

    • D Biswas says:

      Lol, yes to that– recipe for suffering, indeed. It isn't fiction yet, just a vignette from I don't know where.

  • Susan Scott says:

    Hello Damyanti, when I look through notes, pieces of paper, journals, notebooks sometimes I am absolutely amazed at what I read. Did I really, REALLY write that? I agree it's a wonderful way of access to unconscious, like dreams. Where did THAT come from?
    That was a lovely piece of writing btw!!!!

    • D Biswas says:

      Thanks Susan. I sometimes think we all live inside each other's dreams, without knowing it, or maybe something lives inside all of us and gives us this common thread.

  • Sounds cool! Characters emerge out of nowhere, or maybe from a part of your subconscious mind, and you keep a note of them. That's an interesting perspective for a person like me who does not or maybe can not write on fiction. My posts mainly emerge out of ideas that I feel about or that I conceive while observing things, or people, or from discussions

  • D Biswas says:

    Thanks, Balaka. This is how most of my stories are born. I have thousands of pages of such notes. WHo knows where they all come from, but some of them get picked and get to tell their stories.

  • Balaka Basu says:

    loved this post…maybe you should elaborate the character and take the story forward….

  • I love your originality, and approach in your work, excellent work D. Biswas, (tip-hat) to you…! 😀

    • D Biswas says:

      Thank you. I don't think I'm all that original or my work particularly good, but I keep working at it, and enjoy it (most days).

  • She sounds like something is about to happen…
    Maybe I should write down ideas for characters?

  • shelly says:

    She sounds very interesting.

    • D Biswas says:

      I'm closer to her age now than when I wrote her, but I still don't see where she came from. I don't know anyone like her.

  • Birgit says:

    Very cool that you keep notes on your characters and revisit them. I think any creative person does this. Comedians like Bob Hope and Joan Rivers saved every joke and filed them. Artists, of various mediums, will keep calendar pages and magazine pages of anything that interests them. Hell, my mom kept a ton of pistachio shells! I day dream big time and have many characters in my head. Hmmmmm Ok that sounds scary:)

    • D Biswas says:

      I never throw away anything I write, no matter how stupid or unimportant. I have one access to my subconscious and that's through my writing. Oops I've been known to hoard shells of all kinds, nuts, those on beaches, insects…

      People come and go in my head, and some of them haunt me till I write them down.

  • I have no idea, but it sounds pretty interesting.

    • D Biswas says:

      I have none, either. I hope she came out of her self-imposed exile in some of my other notes. I'll have to go take a look.

%d bloggers like this: