Posted by Lynne Griffin
I'm tired today.
What-I-would-give-to-stay-in-bed tired. Don't-put-another-thing-on-my-to-do-list tired.
All because of my work-in-progress.
For the most part, I find writing a first draft to be exhilarating. I like naming characters, considering the most appropriate point of view, and I love choosing story structure. Early on, like a child with a present to open, I can't wait to see inside my characters' motivations. I feel blessed to be brought along on their transformative journeys. As Chris Bohjalian says, "it's the joy of discovery draft." I love learning who my characters really are, following their lead I get to go to places I've never been, meet people I might otherwise never know. It's a literal trip.
Then somewhere in the middle of the story, they start to wear me out. Two weeks ago, I was sipping my morning coffee, not even thinking about my WIP, I had so many other things to do that day. My main character decided that was when she wanted to share her backstory with me. Her story popped into my head, and I needed to rearrange the day to write it all down. She was keeping a scandalous secret for a young girl in the 1950's, and I was afraid I might lose the details if I didn't capture them right there and then.
Last week, I lost an entire night sleep because another lead character wouldn't stop niggling at me. Like a toddler, she'd followed me wherever I went during the day. There she was when I unloaded the dishwasher, she poked me on the shoulder while I tried to answer email. Tugging at my sleeve while I drove my son home from school, even he knew she was bugging me. On the way over to pick up a friend he said, "Are you writing? You have that face on." I laughed because I've been told about that face before. Apparently it's a look I get when I'm writing, but I'm no where near my computer when I make it. My husband and children have seen, the I'm writing face quite often these last few months. My son was right, I'd been trying to figure out what my character would do when faced with her mother's deception.
So there I am, right in the heart of the story. The place where characters have the power to shock me, distract me and otherwise put me through the wringer. They could let me sleep, but they won't. They could choose to minimize what they tell me, but they can't seem to. They could slow down the pace with which they disclose their secrets, but they don't. And to tell you the truth, as exhausted as I am, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Posted by Lynne Griffin