As I near completion of my latest novel, I find myself torn between relief and sadness. I'm not alone in saying that, while writing, one becomes attached to the characters he or she creates. When writing Sarah Of The Moon I constantly worried about the well being of Sarah, Alex, and Matt. Even Chick, with his stubborn ways, drew my sympathies from time to time. I wondered if, once I left them, they would find happiness in their lives, or fulfill their hopes and wishes.
Now, as Swan Loch draws to an end, I again feel concern for those left behind. One character will follow me into a few more books, but the others must find their way on their own.
Each novel begins with a journey into strange places with unfamiliar faces.The joy of writing is discovering characters as they are written, growing with them, and then testing their strengths and weaknesses in harsh and sometimes cruel ways. The hope is that they will survive their ordeals and emerge on the other side as better human beings.
We, as writers, have temporary custody of those who roam the pages of our books. They are in our care from the day of their creation until the day we say goodbye. It is our responsibility to look after them even as we place obstacles in their path.
And so ultimately it is sad to leave my friends behind. For the months we were together they were a part of me, a member of my family. It makes sad to say goodbye even as I move on to new friends and new adventures.
I would like to think they will have fond memories of me. I know I'll never forget them.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
It's easy for us, as authors, to fall back on old habits. I'm referring to the discipline it requires to sit in front of a computer monitor and type words onto a keyboard for three or four hours a day. It begins after a while to feel too much like work. When that happens, it's break time.
Here's where the old habits come into play. I find myself getting restless at around the same time the characters in my book are getting bored with their lives, usually somewhere in the middle of the story.
This often occurred at work too. When I would get bored with what I was doing, I'd start looking for excuses to do something else.
Nowadays, when this happens, if the phone rings I pick it up. Something never done when I'm at a crucial juncture in my story. I might even find myself entertaining the ideas of telemarketers, asking them to go over that thing about a free iPad one more time. Or, if the phone remains silent, I might again browse the same internet sites I left mere minutes before, hoping for a new e-mail or a freshly posted movie review on Rotten Tomatoes.
Old habits are hard to break, even as you know the longer it takes to write the book, the longer it will take before publication.
Soon I will push through the center of my story and begin the rapid free-fall to its dramatic end. Until then I resign myself to the gods of the internet and to the fate of the telemarketers.
Hey, anybody interested in a free month at Planet Fitness?
Monday, March 5, 2012
Lately, as I grow older, I find myself reminiscing more about the past and the many adventures I had when I was young. Back then, when I was a teenager, the years seemed to stick to me like glue. The winters were long and filled with snow. The summers lasted forever, and I remember those days as always being sunny and warm and the nights filled with stars.
Each adventure became a stepping stone to the next one, knowing a greater thrill waited patiently behind each tree, and every dark shadow.
We were once the kings and queens of our separate universes and though our realms were small, they were ours and ours alone. Each day brought some new excitement our way. It might be something as simple as a vine on a tree, perfect for swinging out over rushing water of a stream, or the sheer joy of hearing Del Shannon sing Runaway on a small transistor radio.
I'd like to think that I left a part of me behind in those days. A part of me that still runs free through a summer wind on a cloudless day that might just last forever if I wish it to.
Maybe one day I'll go back. I'll take my wife with me for she once lived nearby, in the next kingdom over. She will smile and nod as I point out the landmarks of my youth and the stories attached to them. She has heard the stories before and will surely hear them again, but she'll let me talk for she knows their meaning to me.
And when I tell these tales of adventures long ago, the time seems to slow and I am once again young, in a summer that may never end.