“This time, tell a friend’s story, or rewrite the end to a popular novel. You could even put yourself in the shoes of your neighbor.
The point is to write the emotions, beliefs, or ideas of someone else. The will require imagination; fake it if you need to. Stretch yourself so you can identify with someone else entirely.
And see how this affects the writing. How much more freely do you write, what new challenges do you face, when you’re no longer yourself?”
I’ve done this sort of project before. Last time, I tried writing from the perspective of someone I know. This time, I’m going to quote the book where I’m picking up the story from.
She sort of shrugged her shoulders, the way she did before, and then she said, very cold, “Do you mind getting me my frock? Or would it be too much trouble?” She was a pretty spooky kid. Even with that little bitty voice she had, she could sorta scare you a little bit. If she’d been a big old prostitute, with a lot of make-up on her face and all, she wouldn’t have been as spooky.
I went and got her dress for her. She put it on and all, and then she picked up her polo coat off the bed. “So long, crumb-bum,” she said.
“So long,” I said. I didn’t thank her or anything. I’m glad I didn’t.
Sunny leaving me was the goddamn best thing that could’ve happened that night. I may have been in this pervert’s hotel, but it didn’t mean I had to be a pervert and all. Christ. My hand shook when I picked up my cigarettes. I walked to the john and walked back out without doing anything.
“Like fun you are,” she said when I told her I was twenty-two. Sunny in her green dress not believing me. Everybody believes me when I say I’m twenty-two. I think it’s on account of the grays in my hair. Plus, I’m really tall for my age. I know I smoke like a chimney, and a lot of people think I’m older than just a lousy sixteen-year-old. I noticed I was pacing. Back and forth. Back and forth. Poor little Sunny. This is when I start to get depressed about things. Sunny, the prostitute. Sunny with the green dress that she probably bought at a Sears and the woman behind the counter thought Sunny was just a regular gal, going out on a date with a real nice guy. A real pal. That’s the dress that was lying on my bed. That’s what started to get me real depressed. I stopped pacing and swore. Christ. Maybe having a prostitute in your hotel room was worse than being alone.
I started moving real quick then. I made sure to grab a pile of dough, and I ran like Hell down the stairs. I wasn’t going in that elevator anymore. Not with Maurice and his girls. Not with Sunny and her “crumb-bum’s” and her spooky eyes and all. No, sir. I wasn’t going in that elevator anymore. Christ. It’s stuff like that that really gets me going in the opposite direction.
The lobby was full of perverts, and I moved past them quick. I thought about taking a cab, but you never know who drives those, do you? I hate the screens that separates you from the driver. I mean, Christ, I really hate those screens. Whenever you think about that divider, it’s just another thing to keep you from seeing the person who’s right there in front of you. It’s enough to depress a person. I mean, who’s saying I don’t want to talk to the guy, make sure he’s a real guy, a man’s man. There’s so many phonies in this world. The divider’s just another way to trick people. Maybe I’d take the cab driver out. Spend a few bucks on him. I made sure my dough was tucked into my sock, not enough to make it bulge, but you know, the way you hide bills so nobody messes with you. There were a couple of bars with the signs flipped to open, but I was still shaking so badly, I didn’t know if I could even order a drink. I stopped and lit a cigarette. My fingers trembled a little as I brought it to my lips. I almost burnt my lips on it. I mean, Christ. Sunny. Whose daughter was she? Do her parents know where she is? Do they know how she gets with men? How crude and all? I mean, do you think Allie would have spent time with Sunny if he was alive. No. Of course not, Allie was innocent. Allie was a kid. I would scoop him into my arms if he was here now and hold him. Allie wouldn’t need to know about prostitutes or the ducks in Central Park. We’d play catch, and I’d catch him so he wouldn’t skin a knee. He’d never have to hurt again. Sunny shouldn’t have to turn tricks. Hell, Sunny should be going to see a movie. Kid can’t even swear, and here she is, spending her nights in a crummy hotel. It’s enough to depress you. It really is.
Excerpt: (Salinger, Jerome David “J.D.”. The Catcher in the Rye. Print.)
So, I noticed while writing Salinger-style, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of his narration style. Honestly, I still don’t think I did a convincing job of imitating his style, and instead, it felt a bit like a project I did sophomore year when I read The Catcher in the Rye in high school. It was a fun project to flex my literary muscle, so to speak, but it didn’t ring true to the character or to my own voice.