I’m wrestling with a character today, so this piece comes as a welcome relief. Some days the text seems to write itself, quick and effortless, whereas on days like these, I struggle to breathe life into these beings. Miss Sophia Pocock, native of Amersham in Bucks doesn’t want to behave, and resists all my efforts to tell her story. I’ll just need to leave it alone for a while and hope that she will come around.
In the meantime, I’m looking at the tons and tons of advice available out there and I’ve enjoyed reading about characters and costume. We all invent our public selves through our clothes and accessories in real life, don’t we? And the notion that you can convey ideas about someone in writing which has psychological truth, yet isn’t limited to their interior monologue, is a useful one.
Take the van Loo portrait here. What does it tell me about the woman? The pearls draw your eye. Worn simply, they dazzle with their sheer size. The status and wealth of the sitter are important features of the character, whether the jewels are real or fake. And the simplicity of the hair decoration tells a tale: ‘I don’t need to wear any other jewellery; I have taste and discernment.’ The implications conveyed by the accessories match the steady, confidence of the sitter’s gaze. A gorgeous picture.
And the inspiration returns. So I’m off back to 1721.