Despite all evidence to the contrary, Joseph considered himself a writer.
Granted, he had not written anything good in months, with the brief yet glorious pinacle of his literary career coming during his senior year of high school, when, after being unceremoniously dumped by a girl, he penned a prolonged, considerably altered and heavily romanticized version of their first and only date.
His English teacher at the time, being a helpless romantic, thought the story was a masterpiece. Upon hearing it, she demanded that Joseph send her the file immedietely, after which she printed out copies for every senior in the entire school. Ever since, Joseph had considered himself a writer.
Still, he had not written anything good in months.
Every now and then, he would have an idea about which he would fantasize for hours. Pirates! A hidden island! Adventure! But, by the time he made it to his computer, he would realize with dread that he was subliminally copying some other work of fiction, except with wooden characters and a heightened focus on an unnecessary central love story.
Joseph preferred to write children`s literature. Things were simpler in a children`s book, he found. If things didn`t work itself out by the end that was only because somewhere out there a publishing company was hounding the poor author to churn out a sequel. His problem lay in originality. If only he could skip straight to the sequel! Then he wouldn`t have to worry about messy things like character development. Characters confounded him most of all.
The character`s Joseph most admired in literature were simple. Pure. Placed in unwarranted circumstances, they made the best of it and somehow ended up better off. Any problems along the way were dealt with using a rigid moral code. No one could ever question the intense and abounding goodness of Joseph`s characters. The milieu of side characters were always drawn to such a hero, each leaving their mark improving him but not changing him. They would bring out the best in him: implying, naturally, that the best was already there to be brought out.
So, in essence, according to Joseph, the ideal case of character development would a character that, behind the smoke screens of carefully crafted prose, didn`t develop at all.
Naturally, these characters never made it past thirty pages of stilted dialogue before being relegated to the wastelands of forgotten Microsoft Word files. They were boring and played out. Incredibly, by intensifying all that he loved in his favorite characters and disgarding the rest, Joseph could destroy them. And so he went on, stealing the residents of various works of fiction, belittling them until they were barely recognizeable, and moving forward.
Until, one day, Joseph realized he had been going about this the wrong way. The reason he hated his characters was that he had absolutely nothing in common with them. They were heroes and he was not. They had the answers, while he had none.
And so, Joseph did what he imagined all writers do when they want to create something of value. He wrote a character with flaws. Whose mistakes made him cringe, and whose successes were, more often than not, the result of the works of others. This character deserved nothing. He had no strict moral code. He did not always make the best of every situation. But he was interesting. And, try as he might, Joseph could not relegate this character to the confines of a computer screen.
He wrote about himself.