Tag Archives: character

Living Other Lives

Sometimes I wish I could steal someone else’s life.

An acquaintance of mine runs an organic farm. She spends her summers on the land making things grow. In the winter she curls up in her cozy cabin, tucked far away from the demands of the world, and writes poetry. She takes wonderful nature photos on her farm, too, and they make me want her life — or those pieces of it, anyway — so badly I can taste it.

Paris at dusk

Paris at dusk. Copyright Siri Paulson, 2007.

In another dream life, I’m a world traveller, an expatriate, living somewhere more glamorous, more full of history and culture, than anywhere in Canada. Or I’m a nomad, trekking across far-flung corners of the world or sailing across all the oceans, seeing everything I’ve ever yearned to see.

I might have been a scientist; I started out my university career as a physics major with astronomy in mind. I might have gone into marine biology and swum with whales and sharks, or ecology and lived in rain forests studying tiny frogs and bromeliads. I might have worked for National Geographic and gone down the Marianas Trench or photographed wildebeest migration in Africa.

For a while I badly wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve dabbled in several kinds of dance, learned several musical instruments, and sung in several choirs. Another acquaintance is a weaver and a puppet-maker and a designer of yarny things; her house when I was growing up was filled with the most amazing art of all kinds, and I want my house to be like that too. I drew all the time when I was young. These days I knit slowly, painstakingly, and wish I had the skills to design knitting patterns.

Since I could never do all that in one lifetime, it’s a good thing I’m a writer. My characters have crossed deserts and tundras, travelled in tall ships and spaceships, experienced zero gravity, lived through World War II and the Black Plague, played music for kings, done magic, travelled through time, fought with swords, met aliens, shapeshifted, birthed and fathered children. I’m grateful for all of it.

Question for readers: What other lives do you wish you’d had?

Question for writers: What’s the best vicarious experience you’ve gotten to live through your writing?