Coming Out about Obsession

Holmes and Watson lying around on chairs, a newspaper between them.

Sidney Paget’s original watercolor illustration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “The Resident Patient.” [public domain]

I am obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. You probably already knew that, so why do I feel the need to “come out” about it? (I say “come out,” because this feels really similar to having a non-assumed sexual orientation.)

I recently saw a colleague’s Facebook post about rereading “The Six Napoleons” in preparation for watching Series 4 of Sherlock. There were so many tips of icebergs packed into that post that I wished I could be as forthcoming about my ideas as she was. But she also said “Yes, I am just that dorky.” I recognized that behavior, the gesture of it, the way I drop my eyes and do a little laugh when I say anything related to Holmes. I realized that I am embarrassed about my obsession.

Why? Am I afraid of the depth of it? I do sense fear there. But when I’m all by myself, I experience only the joy and interest of my obsession. The fear is not of the obsession itself, but rather of its potential social consequences: will people reject me if they find out?

Considering further, I realize that everyone already knows. I write essays entitled “Watson Loves Me.” I watch Sherlock over and over. I listen to audio recordings of Arthur Conan Doyle stories as a way to combat insomnia. The people I care about know these things, and they still like me.

Yeah, says the voice inside, but they don’t know the white hot obsession, they don’t know just how many clock cycles you spend on this, how deep into the water you go.

But you know what? Maybe they do. Lots of people I know are fans of things, so maybe they’re obsessed with those things the way I am obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. Maybe some of them even incorporate Holmes into their personal mythology as much as I do. Hm, I think, maybe not, but that’s the fear again.

I have written here about my obsessions, with Holmes, with Star Trek, and I faced my audience straight on: I stood tall and told the truth without chickening out. That’s because I was writing, and writing’s not worth anything if you chicken out.

I wonder what would happen if I did that in real life, too. I think I might become “more powerful than [I] can possibly imagine.” (Note: I am not obsessed with Star Wars. But lots of people are!)

Obsession is the clock of the universe. I’m going to see what happens if I let it tick out loud.

What Does Your Music Reveal about You?

animated gif of phenakistoscope image of a couple waltzing

Eadweard Muybridge’s Phenakistoscope: A Couple Waltzing. Animated gif version created by Trialsanderrors. Used under Creative Commons license.

Do you have an iPod or similar audio player? Try this: put your device on shuffle/random, and write down the first 10 tracks that play. Post them in the comments if you’re willing!

What does this collection say about you?

Think about one of your characters. What tracks would play on this person’s device (if they had one)? You can post that list too, if you like.

I hope you find some insight into yourself or your characters. See the comments to read my list and add your own!

Character Names from Movie Credits

illustration of a woman watching a movie

Detail from a sheet music cover for “Since Mother Goes To Movie Shows” by Broadway Music Corp. (1916)

When I write a first draft, I grab character names off the nearest shelf in my brain. I’ll bet at least 50% of my characters started off named “Carla” or “Carlos.” I try to find a more fitting name in the second or third draft, but usually I don’t get much more adventurous than “Edna” or “Lawrence.”

Mainstream movie character names are similarly non-diverse. But movie credits! The names of the real people who worked on the films! In movie credits, there are many, many, MANY names that I’ve never heard of. There are whole sets of names that have a familial sound to them, as though they all come from the same language (which they probably do), and I’ve never even suspected that sound to exist, let alone any of the names.

You could name a whole story’s worth of characters out of a single “unit” in a movie’s credits and be guaranteed that the names have some sort of coherence. (Whether the characters match their names culturally is up to research. But if you happen to be writing a Spanish village, and you find a movie that has credits for a “Spain Unit,” I’d say you’ve at least got a head start.

Next time you watch a movie, stay for the credits and see for yourself. For now, I’ll give a few examples.

Names from The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
(Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen this movie.)
Alexandru Miron, Giani Roberto Ivan, Liviu Pojoni, Constantin Moldoveanu, Dragos Ionut Badea, Mihai Marius Apopei, Mats Holmgren, Bogdan Talpeanu, Vera Belu, Anneli Oscarsson

Last names from Blade Runner
Barberio, Ripple, Wash, Cranham, Spurlock, Bakauskas, Van Auken, Polkinghorse, Mirano, Wetmore

First names from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sukhita, Robynne, Darin, Pietro, Gareth, Pranee, Nardeen, Fenella, Wineke, Gudrun, Sourisak, Huia