Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Real Clive Lockwood

I've talked before about how the names in "Lost Convoy" from Monorama came from actual people, most of them ones I knew personally and a few that I came across at the time I was writing it.  Earlier in the year I met the real James Ward.  Previously he was just a name on a business card.  Clive Lockwood, however, I knew personally, although not terribly well.

I was working in a bookstore, and I knew Lockwood as much from phone conversations where he would place orders as when he came in the store itself. He was kind of irritating, but he also had a sense about him of isolation, and that made him somehow endearing, sympathetic.  I turned him into a former priest for the purposes of "Lost Convoy," someone who had undergone a crisis of faith.

When I came across Lockwood again, I decided to talk to him, and it wasn't religion he ended up talking about but politics.  Turns out I was accurate at least in the sense that he has strong opinions, and he exists in a world that seems to have left him behind.  As a writer, it can sometimes be easy to treat real or imagined people as if they're just characters.  I try to be better than that in my fiction, but even I fail, and I think I failed Lockwood, no matter how close I was.  He exists in "Lost Convoy" one way or another, but the real Clive Lockwood seemed like far less an object of pity, which was something I'd stripped away when I wrote the story but started thinking again when I forgot what he was like when I knew him.  I still believe he exists in an isolated world, but more and more I think he wants it exactly that way, no matter how it might seem to others.  I'm a lot like that myself, which makes it odd that I didn't recognize that he should be allowed to live that kind of life, too.

I guess the whole point of my writing about him here is that I started judging him.  We all judge other people.  It's far easier o judge someone when you don't really know them.  I still don't particularly know Lockwood, but I know him better now than before.  The last time I saw him he was a customer.  This time I approached him simply as someone I'd known.  Writing for me is about rising above my base instincts.  I blurred that line when I wrote "Lost Convoy," thinking I could just play fast and loose with borrowed names.  I don't feel any differently about borrowing names now than I did before, but I will certainly think twice about thinking that I can freely interpret those I only think I know.  Next time I'll keep the fiction aspect very much in mind.


  1. We do tend to pass judgement based on a few words or someone's appearance. It takes time to really get to know someone though.
    Did you tell him he was a character in your book?

    1. I told James Ward, and I'm still trying to interpret his reaction. So I didn't tell Clive Lockwood.


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