So I been thinking about this since yesterday, when I came across a very disgusting, hateful conversation about female writers. Some of the merry misogynists accused female writers of always self-inserting and focusing on themselves (because god forbid a woman should fantasize or dream).
I mean, it’s not as if men didn’t use fictional characters to fantasize about themselves in fantasy settings — Batman, Superman, Geralt the Witcher is just Sapkowski, Bilbo Baggins is obviously Tolkien, Tim Burton lives vicariously through Johnny Deep, and every fucking video game character protagonist ever is there so men can insert themselves in juvenile fantasies where they are powerful and handsome and all the womenz want them. These men are focusing — gasp! — on themselves entirely, and these are just a few examples.
Men do it too. There’s nothing wrong with a writer fantasizing and self-inserting so long as it’s done well. Of course, there’s no reasoning with misogynists. Their hatred of women will lead them to believe that women can do nothing right. It’s the same for racists and homophobes. Hatred is the same in all its ugly forms: it’s irrational and it’s taught. And it’s taught to uphold a status quo so that one group stays in power.
But anyway. The real point of my post is that I don’t have any self-inserts, though I’m sure people who read my books think otherwise.
Rigg from The Thieves of Nottica is, no, not a self-insert. I am actually nothing like Rigg. In fact, Rigg is a better person than me, and at the same time, she’s still not someone I’d want to be.
Rigg is forgiving and her compassion is often misguided. She forgives Kito — even after he screws her over — and feels pity for him. In one of her last conversations with Morganith, we see her trying to make excuses for Kito and find some way to forgive him, while Morganith is dead-set on hating Kito the rest of her natural born life.
If I had to be honest, Morganith is more like me in personality than Rigg. Because I don’t forgive people easily. I move on. I stop dwelling on what they did. But I don’t forgive them for it. I’ll never be their friend or speak to them again, etc. And even then, Morganith is still not a self-insert for me. (That’s where the similarities end. Hate to disappoint you, but I’m a cis gender woman.) I’m not masculine like Morganith (I wear dresses) and if I had only one arm, I would not be brave enough to go out and fight giant mechanical monsters with it.
Morganith is also not someone who I’d want to be, though. And I think I covered this in the post about beauty being a curse. We see Morganith objectified, insulted, and sexually harassed throughout the book. That’s the kind of attention beauty draws. It’s not fun. And because most women in real life don’t have a mechanical hand, they wind up being unable to stop public groping the way Morganith can.
Neferre from Time’s Arrow is yet another character I’m sure people will assume is just my self-insert. Only she’s not. I am — once again — nothing like this character. Neferre is stupid. I’m not stupid. Neferre is also coarse, disgusting, and rude. I mean, she is really rude, while I have always been described as the epitome of politeness since before I could talk.
In the original draft, Neferre was so rude that she and Princess Athica actually hated each other and fought a lot. Athica was originally very rude as well and very arrogant because she was a princess. When I went back and changed the lore so that elven royalty had a different meaning, Athica’s arrogance no longer made sense. So I made her softer and nicer, which — hopefully — made it more tragic when she was hurt later in the story.
Neferre is rude because she is defiant. She lives in a world that would rather see her dead and shouts back with sarcasm and a laugh. Sometimes she goes too far and that rudeness extends to Verne, who promptly reminds her with a slap to show other people basic respect.
Then, of course, we have Cameron from Qorth, the science fiction romance I’m unable to get anyone to read because — thanks to shit like Twilight — no one wants to touch paranormal romance with a ten-foot pole.
Again, Cameron is nothing like me. If my dog was possessed by an alien and spoke to me, I would not have gone back down to the beach to see this alien. I would have stayed in my house with my shotgun, like any rational human being.
Cameron is characterized as being very, very curious, though. She loves building things and understanding how things work. Intellectual curiosity is something she and Qorth sort of bond over while fixing his ship. If the book hadn’t been a novella, I probably would have gone into it more.
I really don’t see myself in Cameron, though. Her hair is pink, but mine is blue. Totally different colors . .. haha.
Wareska from The Seaglass Stair is also not a self-insert. I explain in the Dear Reader section of the book itself that she is actually based on Atreyu from The Neverending Story as an affectionate nod to that story.
The closest I ever came to a self-insert was a character in my upcoming book The Light of Risna, and even she has been rewritten so that there are no traces of me left in her. Not because I wanted to prevent myself from self-inserting, but because the person she was based on doesn’t even exist anymore and I would rather forget she ever existed. I’m not that person anymore.
Self-inserting isn’t bad. It’s just something I don’t really do.
Though, once again, I’m certain lots of readers will think otherwise.