Wednesday, July 23, 2014
When My Characters Hurt, I Hurt
I haven't written anything since Saturday. This is Wednesday. I took Sunday off because I just usually take Sundays off. But then I read and fiddled on the interwebs Monday and yesterday during the time when I wasn't opening and grading assignments for summer school kids. I had plenty of time and nearly opened my writing program several times, but just couldn't do it. Was it because I was lazy? No. I mean, I do have a tendency toward laziness, but not when it comes to writing. Was it because I had nothing to write about? Absolutely not. I have the big picture of the entire book put together. I know who the bad guys are and who did what to whom and what's going to happen all the way to the ending. As is generally true at this point in the writing, I know who dies, who goes on, who's sad, and who's happy at the end.
The problem is that I'm starting down a path that I dread. Something unthinkably terrible is about to happen to Harry and Dee, my main characters. More specifically, the physical part will happen to Dee, but it will affect both of them in ways that will change each of them individually forever and also alter their relationship in substantive and nearly disastrous ways. I've dropped some hints about it, but things start toward an inevitable conclusion at the end of the chapter I'm working on right now. In the long run, they'll be a stronger couple, but this whole book is going to be nightmarish for them.
I could change the storyline, I suppose, but that just doesn't work. In my mind, this thing is already happening. I could no sooner change this event than a real person could go to the doctor, find out he/she has cancer, and say, "Oh, shoot, better rewrite this and get rid of the cancer storyline." Maybe other authors feel this way--I don't know. These people are real to me and their world, though it's only in my head and, eventually, in the book, is as complete and real to me as if it were physically tangible. So when I decided that this awful thing had happened to Dee, I simply couldn't go back. It was already true.
So I've done the next best thing, the thing I tend to do in real life when facing something negative. I put it off, I do other things, I pretend for a little while that it's not really happening. But, just like in real life, reality will eventually catch up to me and I will have to face the truth. How long will that be? I'm not sure. Maybe soon. I'm teetering toward the conclusion that it's time to get it over with so I can sleep.
I have no idea if any of this makes sense to anyone but me. Maybe other writers have faced this? If you're a writer and can relate, please let me know. If you're not a writer, but understand, let me know that too.
I think I'll do some reading...