Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Describing boyfriends (or professors)

I'm completely stuck in a chapter, in the midst of a description of the Professor. So far, it's the worst description ever, full of mismatched images and long sentences that don't quite make sense. I've never had this problem with a character before -- but maybe that's because none of my characters have ever before been real.

Describing the people close to us, the people that we love, seems to be something we never do. I'm having to go back over old emails I sent to friends from when I first met the Prof. In those, I can describe him. But that's when he was a stranger -- just a collection of vague physical traits and few quotes I could remember.

Now, however, he's complicated. I know him too well. And my thoughts about him come from a bunch of different angles -- not just from a straight-on first impression.

I guess I'd have this problem if I tried to describe anyone else who is really close to me. (Sounds like some wacky psychology exercise, which I'm not about to do.) Fortunately for my friends and family, it's just the Professor right now who is putting me in a bad mood.


  1. This phenomenon is interesting. I recognize it from my own experience, sometimes it doesn't even have to be related to writing -- don't you just feel so close to someone sometimes that it's almost as if you can't see them clearly?

    Sometimes I find it helpful to just observe that person while they're preoccupied with something else. Try to imagine that you're seeing them for the first time. Their movements, your initial thoughts about who they might be. It's an interesting exercise even if it's not for writing. Some of the moments when I do this with my bf I think are the moments when I love him the most.

    Perhaps that's weird.

  2. Yeah... I think I'm getting past it -- thank goodness! I had to think back to that moment when we met so I could figure out what I thought of him back then, but I wasn't even sure I could remember what I thought of myself. The fact that perspectives change is cool, but it makes the old ones harder to capture.