BouncyMischa (bouncymischa) wrote,

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Reflections on Self-Insertion and Character Divergence

Ahhh... I miss writing university essays, with titles like that. I suspect not many people will actually read this entry, but I've been feeling a little uneasy about something and wouldn't mind feedback on it. Then again, I may have managed to find my answer while thinking things through anyways.

I've always had a very strange tendency towards self-insertion. Way back in high school or so, the first stories my brother and I wrote actually used ourselves as main characters, in a sense. Being new to writing fiction, we didn't really feel confident in creating main characters of sufficient depth, so we used 'future' versions of ourselves, who'd grown up and gotten careers and so on. The rest of the cast was fictional, but it still had a core of, essentially, self-insertion. (They were even written first person! Gah!) As I started to read more fantasy and the like, I also found myself often wondering "What would I do in this kind of a setting?", or in a more Mary-Sue sense, "What would a more idealized version of me do in this setting?" Usually they were rather contrary things, with teched out characters ending up in a fantasy setting and the like, but it was rather amusing.

As I got better at writing, this trend sort of died off as I built more rounded and unique characters. But the self-insertion fantasies never did quite die out, as they were often entertaining. Once I started roleplaying in places like the Napping Cat's Dream, however, a new dimension developed. I created Mischa in the NCD as both an OOC outlet, and an IC roleplaying outlet that let me direct some of my weirder ideas (like various transformations and such) away from my more serious characters, which were suffering a bit for it. It worked out adequately within the 'player-god' concept, as there were already several other PGs in the Dream, although it got problematic sometimes when I let myself go a little too wild, and didn't pay much attention to things like consistency. Still, this generated a bad habit in that roleplaying as Mischa let me essentially use my own personality and emotions. When I started roleplaying in the Gaming Guardians forum, however, this caused a problem. I brought over Mischa because the GG universe also carried the 'player-god' concept in a sense, with the Primary System, so it made sense that Mischa could be involved. But by making the character wildly divergent from the original (it made some sense, in that he did often change form, and was given an opportunity for a new form when he arrived since he'd 'lost' his old body), I created a degree of friction. Playing her off of my own personality and reactions caused even more problems, as I becamse too deeply enmeshed with the character and took some things too personally, letting my own RL mood swings affect her roleplaying. In the end, things smoothened out a bit, as I focused more upon the character, and some friends helped me develop more of a history for her. Everything she's been through in the past year or two has helped define her as a unique individual in my mind.

As I started to work on some new comic ideas, however, a problem has come up. Genie Mischa has essentially become my default incarnation in three forums, and I basically consider her my alter ego -- an eidolon, perhaps. In reading some comics, though, I started to regain an interest in reviving some of my older ideas. Early on when I'd first started drawing, I'd created a storyline for a series called "Hen na Gakuen (Strange Academy)", with a bunch of misfit students that were put together into a single class. I beleive their instructor was basically supposed to be a self-insertion, one of those 'future extrapolations' that I'd written about in the past. Later, for practice I did random "Life With Ryan" comics about myself and my friend Ryan, and eventually I started considering doing a series called "My Strange Life", which was basically a synthesis of the two. In reading some online comics recently, I've been thinking about trying to do some short MSL-related comics. Previously, characters from MSL showed up in my comic war with Dr. Ink, in the DMFA forums, and I'm wanting to do something similar. But the question arises... what to do with Mischa? Originally, the Mischa in MSL was essentially my rl self... but now many people are largely aware of Mischa as the genie version.

I've been at something of a loss as to how to reconcile the two. One idea was to rename bouncy rubber Mischa as an independent character. Another, perhaps more feasible, was to use normal Mischa, and keep a genie character in the series using the alternate name. (I'll probably still do this anyways, since more genies is always good! :D ) Still, it's been something of a stressful matter for myself. I'm hesitant to try and draw much with any of these ideas until I can decide which I want to go with.

In thinking about it today, however, one solution may have presented itself. In thinking back, the Mischa in the MSL storyline did rather break the fourth wall. In the first episode, he was frequently accused of slacking off and not doing enough drawing (which I wasn't, at the time), until the various MSL characters attacked him as punishment. During the whole episode, he continually objected that he wasn't really the artist... just an incarnation of him. In the end, it may be best to maintain MSL-Mischa in this fourth-wall-breaking sense... using the discrepancy between self-insertion character and real-life self as a matter of irony and humor. I have this image of him at one point saying to himself, "I'm going to kill that guy... even if he is me!".

As of yet, it's still not an issue... but it is on my mind. :3
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Well, I like reading your essays.

I'm not sure the extent to which the different Mischas do need to be reconciled. Maybe it's just the particular background I have, but it feels pretty natural to suppose that in one sequence there's Mischa the genie, and in another there's Mischa the bouncy rubber imp. As long as you don't grant one abilities (like breaking the fourth wall) that ought to belong to the other, your audience should be able to follow pretty well. Just label one of them as Earth-One and the other as Earth-Two ...

I'd endorse the 'more genies' policy, though, since they are such fun, although that may just be that I like the genie I've known you as.

I think the issue, at least for me, is reconciling my avatars with my RL self. In all three forums, for example, bouncy rubber genie Mischa is essentially my avatar -- in fact, she gets used pretty much everywhere as my avatar. But what, then, when I'm referring to my RL self? It may not be as big of a problem as I feel, since furries, for example, cannot be their furry selves in rl, even if they are the same gender. (Fursuiters aside... :3).

It may be that if I draw more art under the genie-Mischa alter ego, then I'll feel more comfortable depicting myself as her because she is a representation of that side of myself. Might be another way to reconcile the issue...
I read it! I read it!

... I'm not sure I can comment, having avoided the GG and NCD forums, if only because I have enough else to do, and forums tend to, IME be full of trolls and people feeding them...
Make her bosom big enough and no one will notice anything else.