I am getting ready to write a new series of books, and it is a process that at once thrills me, but also terrifies me. When I begin to write a book strange and crazy things start to happen; I loose focus of my surroundings, my characters’ lives become my own, and their own insecurities just exasperate my own. But it is a process I crave in the same way I crave love and laughter and peace.
My characters are these amazing women and men who meld themselves into my veins and start to take on dimensions and layers that I would never have intentionally given them (mostly because it messes my story up more). They require their own voice to be heard, and they demand that they are given their due – and I can tell you the heroes are as bad as the villains. I don’t like going into a book with a clear picture or even a very defined picture for the men and women I try to write about eventually take over, and it becomes a waste of time for me to try and mold them from the beginning. I have tried to fight them, but it is sort of like being in a lion’s den with only a burning match as your defense.
It makes me incredibly frustrated to write because my characters don’t like to stop for bathroom breaks, or smoke breaks, or lunch breaks. They are impatient to be heard, and I have to time my ability to sit down and begin their stories with a time in my life that I can handle the often difficult positions they put me through. It is frustrating, it is mind numbing but it is the only think I know fulfills me.
These stories have darkness, even when it is light outside my window; they have pain; even when I am too high to feel it; and they have love but only at the endings. And the stories end. It is a sad but universal truth about writing great stories, they have to end. And while my characters will continue to live on in my mind and heart; when I start that first page I also start the journey to the last.
I don’t know if I am typical of other writers, if other people who write for a living get drowned in the stories they are telling, and loose so much of themselves in the process – or if they can go through the stories not allowing anything to touch them, not allowing anything to drive them…I hope and pray for both that I am like others and it is normal for me to get so lost in the worlds that I design, and that others are able to come back to the real world faster.
My first book I wrote in a matter of months; standing, pacing, smoking, reading, researching, drinking…all of it a single continuous day that I lived in. I slept when I had to, ate when it was necessary and tried to make myself stop for a few hours each day to workout or enjoy something other than the protagonists going through my head. My fear is, so much has changed since I first wrote a book – I have a home, a husband, a son – all who need me. Can I balance them all and still be true to the story that I have to write. Because while I would give up my writing for my son – I can’t give up my writing for myself.
Originally Posted 2011