Olga has been making dolls lately. She uses a Raggedy-Ann/Andy pattern, but that’s her concession to custom. The rest of each doll is her own creation.
It struck me that she is doing exactly what I do when I create a character. I start with a pattern that is recognizably human, and after that, my muse and I collaborate to create a living character. We give a character this or that attribute, and the next time we peek, he or she has grown freckles or changed hair style or chosen a tie or a frock that I would not have consciously given him, or her.
Olga is currently working on three dolls. They are buck naked. One doll, a buck, is enormous. The other day it had only eyebrows and moustache, jet black, and I commented that it looked alright just that way. It had that Sesame Street look. But no. Olga had to create a face. She asked to look into my eyes. That doesn’t happen too often, so I complied. Turns out she was using me as a model.
I do that too. Sometimes I model a character’s looks after someone I know, or knew. But only to a degree. I am CREATING a character, not cloning one. The face that Olga created for Buck (my label) looks nothing like me . . . I could never grow a moustache like that. And my eyes, I think, are prettier.
Olga is delighted with her dolls. HER dolls. They exist by and at her pleasure. Just like MY characters. She is especially proud of one doll’s individualized fingers.
Writers and doll-makers – not too different after all.