The Art of Self Insertion

I saw a post on Tumblr that said something like, “your ideal ship: character you can project onto x your crush” and I physically cringed at it because I found it cringy.

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I remember the exact stream of thoughts that ran through my head afterward. It was ‘who’s out here with an actual boner for the people they ship?’ I kind of chuckled to myself thinking that yeah, I like the characters I ship, but I don’t like them. I just think they’re cool dudes and I like to watch them do things. None of them are actually people I’d want to date or even have more than a passing interest in if they were real. It’s just that, when I say I want to see more queer people of color in media, it’s not because I identify with anything more than the fact that they are both queer and people of color…. And you know, of course, the fact that their life kind of sucks a little bit, and also that they’re absolutely hopeless, and we can’t forget that they’re too stupid and too gay to be functional around the person they like and, oh. Oh no. That’s me. I want to see myself. But not just someone who has certain qualities that are similar to mine. Rather, I want to see my story- done well and with care at that. My ideal ship is, someone that I can project onto being happy and gay with someone I enjoy watching do cool shit. I re-blogged the post, of course, but it wasn’t without first unlocking several levels of self-realization.

A lot of my life these days is just me realizing things everyone has figured out. But as we say in the streets, it be like that sometimes.

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I put a lot of time and effort in the worlds I build and the characters I create. I want to make worlds that are representative of the things I see and characters that are representative of the things I believe. I then want those characters to solve the problems those worlds hand to them and then live happily ever after. Inserting myself into those worlds and around those meticulously crafted people felt a lot like I was staining them, like I was glitching the matrix but on purpose. And how dare I do that after hours upon hours of working on these projects?

For a long time, I thought that I hated self-insertion stories. I didn’t think that real people belonged in worlds where happily ever after has no day after that. So, I found it especially gross when other people did it. But really, I think I was just projecting a teeny bit there. As my mental health seesaws though, I’m starting to get it. It’s like, if you have the ability to write yourself into a situation that is better than the one you are currently in, then why the fuck not? The weird thing is, I don’t think I’ve written a story in which I haven’t self-inserted though. At least not consciously. If I look back nowadays, I can find a little bit of myself in everyone I’ve ever written. Now I just do it more clearly and on purpose.

That’s a long way to come considering, I wouldn’t even so much as daydream about myself. Yeah, my self-hatred ran that deep. It was like I couldn’t even bear to so much as think about myself. (And now that I think about it, it makes sense as to why I’ve always been bad at those career goals worksheets that ask you to imagine yourself in five years or so.) Now, self-insertion is synonymous with self-care for me. And I deserve it. I’m doing my self a favor by imagining myself in situations where, not only am I the hero, but I am also happy, and healthy, and gay, and thriving. If something bad happens, there is no stress as to how I’m going to figure it out, because the danger isn’t real. I can literally just make a solution, any solution- no matter how nonsensical, just appear out of thin air and it works because there is no one to tell me it doesn’t.

4 comments

  1. Self insertion is nothing new. Will Shakespeare wrote a comic version of himself into As You Like It. Lots of debate around whether Harriet Vane is really Dorothy L Sayers pairing herself with Lord Peter Wimsey and whether Dr Maturin is Patrick O’Brian as he wished to be. Fascinating topic.

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  2. Thank you for sharing that. You absolutely do deserve to be happy and loved. And because of that, I think you should insert yourself, either in whole or part, into a story as being the hero and having a happily ever after. Because you can. So, yeah, why the hell wouldn’t you?

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  3. This was really inspirational for me reading this. It gave me the confidence to actually make my first post to my blog. I hope it will be as remarkably successful as yours when it comes to engaging and keeping readers. May you have many blessings infinity times. Have an outstanding 2020! Happy New Year!

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