This little guy is my boy Chirpy.
Chirpy is a character I created when I wrote about a wild bird that was trapped in my basement in 2013. It was just a throw away of a blog post. An acknowledgement that God does listen when we pray. That each creature (except the pigeons next door) is special.
My wife loved the story. For months she asked if the little birds that came by the table where we enjoy the yard was Chirpy. I’ll be honest – all fat little sparrows look alike to me. But it was obviously important to her.
I asked my artist friend Lauren Mattson to create a drawing of Chirpy. I presented it to my wife as a gift this last fall. She was over the moon with joy when she saw the picture. For the first time in years there was little delay in getting something framed in my house – it was up on the wall within a month.
The moral of the story is that you have to take your creations as seriously as God does his when you’re a writer. You never know when that character you create will touch a heart. I’ve written about the death of some of my characters and found myself sobbing. (No, my mancard isn’t in jeopardy.) It’s tough to kill someone you’ve grown to know – and those characters are real to writers. Now, with that in my mind, and Chirpy on the wall, I’m doubly sensitive to how I deal with my characters.
I can’t kill them in a gruesome way, no matter the payoff – ah, that’s a lie. If the payoff is big enough I’ll do it in a heartbeat. But I will examine the cost/benefit more closely when I do it. I don’t want to put anyone into a funk because I need a plot device. And Chirpy? He’s safe. Now that darned turtle I created ten years ago – he’s fair game.