Always you must play yourself

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I am gradually making my way through JCO’s Blonde. In this case, “gradually” means that I read over half the book, then set it aside to read three other books, after which I returned to it. This is not a particularly productive way to read, and not generally how I tend to operate, but it is what it is. I wanted to read the other stuff (all nonfiction, all pertaining to an upcoming life event), damn it! Still, it leaves me with the impression that I’ve been reading this book indefinitely.

Anyhoo. Here is the point: that several sections ago I encountered in Blonde a citation from Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares that I think has particular resonance for fiction as well:

Always you must play yourself. But it will be an infinite variety.

Here to translate this sentiment into the realm of the fiction writer, I present Dorothea Brande:

Of course, it follows that each writer’s stories will always bear a fundamental likeness to each other. This need not be seen as a threat of monotony, but the conscious mind must be enough aware of it to alter, recombine, introduce elements of surprise and freshness into each new story project.

I would add to that, vis the Stanislavski quote, that as I writer I seem to have certain types of narrative personae that I slip into with relative ease, each of which represents some facet of myself. I’m guessing this is not unusual for writers: we are what we write. Trying to find the infinite variety is the trick.


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