Thursday, August 23, 2012

Character Building

With The Loss of Deference published, I decided that I would give myself a little break from writing. I thought a few weeks of holiday time would suit the time of year, and that I could hit the beach and revel in my new found glory as a self published author. Well, I might still be revelling in the idea that I published my book, but the holiday from writing never really took off.

So this got me thinking. All these years that I have been trying to write, since being a child. All the moments of daydreaming. Have they all been the expression of something rooted deeper? Was it ever really a hobby, or was this a need in me that was never getting fulfilled in my scientific professional life. All the times that I spent in between patients in a dark ultrasound room scribbling down ideas onto post it notes and tucking them in my tunic pocket until either they would get accidentally thrown away with the other bits of scrap or I would have forgotten their point; the time that a small black notepad sat by my nightstand to recall the horrific dreams that my mind would conjure up that might in the guise of James Cameron lead to a single idea that would spawn a mega-story like The Terminator; the years that I passed snatching moments with the laptop in order to get The Loss of Deference written. Some of those moments were awful. After a twenty four hour on call shift, finally getting home when any sane person would stick on the TV and watch a bit of mindless nonsense before sleeping off the day, and I am getting out a laptop and starting the tap tap tap that begins the next chapter. It is only in the last few months, when finally life has taken an unexpected turn and handed me a new set of cards, when I have actually been in a position to write freely, at normal hours of the day and still turn on the TV at the end of the day and Keep up with the Kardashians.

Today I sat at the computer and the words just wouldn't come. So I completed the accounts for the day job (bills still have to be paid, this is not a utopia) and fussed around the spell checker, and mopped the floor of the clinic. Then, sat amongst the files and notes, with the familiar scent of Dettol creeping up my nose, I started scribbling, like I had done so all those years ago. Random lines and scribbles and words: a new character here, and new setting there. The post-it note was relegated for a much larger piece of paper but the idea was the same. Suddenly I had the next five, maybe six chapters. I think I might even have worked out the end. Kind of.

So my point is this. Today, I had no will to write. I didn't know what I wanted Elizabeth to do when she got off the bus back in her sleepy coastal town in my WIP, and I had no idea how Jack was going to get her back to the city, or how he was going to find her dead sisters house.  And today, I'm not sure when I got to the office at nine this morning I was too worried about it. I was sure that by the weekend, or early next week I'd get there. Hell, I have written over 50,000 words in the last six weeks or so, and that is by far my best writing achievement. I'll work it out, relax, take a day off search the internet, look for a wedding dress. But I couldn't. I couldn't help myself. I had to find a solution. I had to make the story work. I had to breathe life into Jack and Elizabeth and solve her sister's death. I guess real life can fight me as much as it likes but when your mind wants something else, it will win out. So I may have considered giving up on my writing, stop living the dream/nightmare depending on your daily viewpoint and go any enjoy life away from a computer screen, but only to realise that my writing just wouldn't give up on me. It clawed me back. It enticed me, and I came grovelling back asking for another chance.


  1. A true writer can never quit writing. It's instilled within us. We might take a break now and then, but eventually your muse will stalk and haunt you until you do her bidding.

    Once I finish a novel, I will generally take a few weeks off because the overall process takes a toll. Your mind needs some rest.

    The odd thing during these "breaks" is that my mind is still churning new ideas. Sometimes you have to wait until the stirring mist fades. Then you'll see something that attracts your attention. Something that begs you to write about it. The flow returns.

    I have come to understand that I cannot force my characters to do something. I will wait until they start interacting again. That's why I generally have other projects I can work on. Or, I will reread what I've already written and edit as I go. Jot down notes.

    Hang in there, Michelle. Soon your fingers will be trying to keep up with your mind as you type.


  2. You are so right! That is exactly what happened. I didn't want to start another book straight away. I wanted a break, but it just wasn't happening. In my clouds of ideas, it became more peaceful to write them out. Let's hope that this make me one of lifes true writers.......