Today I thought I was Ella

Today I thought I was Ella. I thought I was a young, naive girl in love. But I’m not. I’m not Ella, I’m her author. I created her.

Yet she is me.

Ella is me but so is Anna and Harry and Robert and Jed and George – all of them are me. They are facets of me. They are also facets of others. How can I write them without embodying them? Without seeing the world through their eyes? My head is a muddle of me and the past, present and future of characters that are not me. Not only their lives, but also their emotions, desires, needs, wants.

Yet how to find me among it all? How to find Koraly. Where is she? Who is she? Oh, the novel will be grand, and powerful, and explore themes unexplored in Australian literature, but where does that leave me? Not Ella – Koraly. Someone told me it’s the experiences that pain us most, the ones that drain our souls and refill us changed; it is those experiences that create the best stories, the stories that affect people, the stories that resonate.

But what about Koraly?

Each draft drags me into the thick of story, yet who will emerge? Who will emerge from the pages when the last sentence has been written, the last word typed?

Am I supposed to talk about this? Reveal this? Am I the only writer like this? If not, than how do we, as writers, rise above our stories, grasp our identities, differentiate ourselves from our characters?

Koraly Dimitriadis

Koraly is a widely published Cypriot-Australian writer and performer. She is the author of the controversial Love and F**k Poems. Koraly received an Australia Council ArtStart grant. She presents on 3CR radio and has a residency at Brunswick Street Bookstore. Her 2013 La Mama show is Exonerating The Body. She is mentored by Christos Tsiolkas.

More by Koraly Dimitriadis ›

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  1. Koraly, I think about this a lot! How do I write what I know without writing a weakly veiled biography? How do I write things outside of my experience without sounding contrived and, well, retarded? I think for me it’ll just take time and loads of writing to find the balance.

    You mentioned previously that you’re working on your eighth draft of this novel? That’s a lot of sweat and years, I’m guessing. Maybe writers need to be prepared to surrender a little piece of our brain for every novel we complete, as a sacrifice of thanks for having been able to partake in the joy of creation. I’m going to use this as my excuse for being a batty, multi-personalitied (yeah it’s a word now) old lady one day.

  2. Hi zz,
    thanks for responding. I think when I started writing I didn’t realise how much of yourself you have to invest in it emotionally. Also, it isn’t as simple as this happens, then that happens. You need to really know your characters, and by know I mean you need to know what their past experiences have been, what has shaped them into the people they are, and what journey they are going to take in the novel. Every character must have a purpose or they are just furniture. I think I’ve come to accept now that in order to write novel you do have to surrender a part of your mind to it, but it is scary sometimes, keeping that firm grip on your identity. I think that will comes with experience also.

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