Tuesday, December 11, 2007


By Amy

I'm in love. Hopelessly, desperately in love. His name is George and he's tall -- taller than most -- kind beyond words, reserved in the most cordial way possible, and all alone in the world (save for his sickly mother). He's the protagonist in my new novel and like any new lover, I'm eager to learn all there is to know about him.
To be honest, I was a little afraid to wade in again, afraid I wouldn't be as connected to my next character as I was/am to Clara from TETHERED. My first love. But this second blush is perhaps more enticing than my courting of Clara. Now I know what lays ahead: the world building, the discovery of each character's quirks, the desperate need to protect them from the world's ugliness. I am a more experienced lover.

The first time around introduced me to the learning curve. The stumbling along when it came to plotting their lives, clumsily braiding various threads, dense to the metaphors my subconscious typed on the page. Now I understand what must be done and, more important, how to do it. Today at least.
I know the beginning, so many of the scenes in-between, and, like TETHERED, I know the last scene, the very last line. It thrills me to have this assurance.
This is what it is to be a writer. To find myself enmeshed in a fictious life. To be wholly besotted by that world. Overcome. Blessedly overwhelmed. No other aspect of the writer's life compares to the actual writing. Finding the rhythm of the sentences, being transported out of myself, the rush when the words burst forth. Oh, the ecstasy of staggering away with one good page completed!
It's also a comfort to know it won't always be easy. We will tussle, George and I. There will be days when I'll find him distant, aloof. Many months will be spent wondering if the commitment is there to see us through. He will disappointment me and I him. Petulant hours will be followed by angst-filled weeks. I'll second-guess everything. Is there anything worse than doubt?
But then the hope will return, the passion. Then...the words. Ah, new love.


By the way, if you happen to run into Ian McEwan, please tell him he's breaking my heart.
I'm now reading ATONEMENT (no, please don't give it away, everyone wants to discuss the ending). If you haven't already bought your copy, you must. This is one of the few times I've found myself tensed, my heart pounding from reading a book. That first chapter -- young, dramatic Briony -- it were as if Mr. McEwan spied on my childhood thoughts and took notes. How does he know what it is to be a girl? I've never been one to highlight or underline text (sacrilege!) but I was tempted with this:
"Another mole, the size of a farthling on her thigh and something purplish on her calf -- a strawberry mark, a scar. Not blemishes. Adornments."
Chills. Yes, he's breaking my heart and not just because I've fallen a bit in love with him too (the man understands women and that is devastatingly irresistable). He is very nearly a perfect writer.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Amy, I love that you're in love again. I'm thrilled that you're starting the journey all over again. I know when I started my second, I felt the same worry . . . would i connect in the same way with these folks? (Kind of like when i was pregnant with my second child and worried that I couldn't possibly love another baby as much as the first. Oh, what I didn't know!)

But they pull you in and you're a goner. I'm now nearly done with this second love affair and I'm already starting to miss them.

Okay, now I need to go buy Atonement.

Carleen Brice said...

Hi Amy, I know EXACTLY how you feel. It's a relief, isn't it? Enjoy and congrats!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, it is just like that second baby: will I have enough love forthem both? Yes, and more. So glad to hear you're just about done. I hope you love Atonement -- and Ian McEwan.

Yes, Carleen, a huge relief. So much fear starting out again, but so necessary.


Melissa Amateis said...

I have a character that I fell in love with in the 6th grade - he's been with me every since. He just popped up out of nowhere one day in a story I was writing and someday, I knew I'd have to tell HIS story. I'm still waiting for the right time. :-)

I am definitely going to read Atonement. It sounds like a wonderful book (and it's set during WW2 for part of it!).

Therese Fowler said...

And you say you're not very romantic...

Have just begun ATONEMENT; it's as if we've got a long-distance book club in the works. :)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Melissa, that's such an intriguing story. I hope someday he finds his way onto the page. And, yes, Part II of ATONEMENT takes palce in Dunkirk. You'll love it.

Therese, it is kind of like a virutal book club. It's so seldom I read what others are reading; I'd love to be part of a book club if only there were the time.


Larramie said...

What a heady feeling, Amy, to be falling in love with your character and Ian! The best part is that you can spend hours with George any time you wish and Ian's video interview is on my Atonement post for everyone to enjoy.

Btw, where did you meet George? ;)

Anonymous said...

WOW; you are already into the next love. I am impressed. I thought you'd be blissfully waiting for Tethered and allowing Mr. George to simmer alone for a while.
Lucky Mr. George ;)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Larramie, yes, I've been to your post about Ian. I have to finish reading the book before I can view the video however. The interviewer said too much. As for George, he's my Cupid. He comes to me at night, undercover of darkness, refusing to reveal his whole self to me.

Usman, Mr. George is persistent -- sand darling. He is my ideal. You'll see.


Lisa said...

Amy, I feel like I should be giggling behind the school with you. I am so happy for your new love. It has taken a while longer for me to fall in love with my two main characters. I was always fond of them, but the three of us are all pretty detached and reserved, so it wasn't until recently that it dawned on me that I love them both. AND, after reading On Chesil Beach and Atonement, I've been standing on the rooftops declaring my undying adoration for Ian McEwan. More than once this week I've made my declaration that I think he's the finest living writer in the English language. Tash, Mimi and Ian. I love them all!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, Ian McEwan is absolutely the finest living writer in the English language, along with a few others I could name. I was a depressed after reading that first chapter, knowing I'd never write as well, but then I realized writing is like a good cookie (I'm a baker: some days you feel like chocolate chip, others for snickerdoodles, still others for white chocolate macadamia nut with a drizzle of caramel and sprinkle of coconut. BTW, I'm so glad the three of you are getting on so well.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for this post. Just when I begin to think I'm crazy because I treat my characters like real people, you confirm that I'm not alone (or being unfaithful). It's a whole aspect of writing I hadn't even anticipated.

I wrote a story where a character never appears, indeed she's dead before the story even starts. Do you think she'd stay dead? Heck, no. Now I'm writing a "prequel" but she won't even stay within the confines of a short story.

What to do? I won't be able to write the whole thing, because, of course, she dies and that's too awful to contemplate. And if you think I could alter her future and keep her alive, well, it just doesn't work that way is all I can say.


Sustenance Scout said...

You've convinced me, Amy! Atonement will follow Junot Diaz's Wondrous Life for me. Does anyone else wish we didn't require sleep?! And that books like these were given out free to everyone?

I love falling in love! K.

moonrat said...

yeah, atonement really got to me. although it got to me right from the beginning.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Kira, I would love to hear more about your series, it's sounds amazing. What genre?

SS, okay, I will buy Wondrous Life (great cover, great title, great writer). I could fall in love with Junot, too. So fickle.

Moonie, yes, he had me at page one. Do you know he spends upwards of 6 weeks drafting the first graf? It shows.


Anonymous said...

Genre? Got me. Well not sci-fi, not horror. If I come up with a mystery they could go there. But for now more romance than anything. Is there such a thing as lesbian chick lit? Or is that redundant?

And have you ever written yourself into a corner? The first story I wrote, which comes second, has a character coming home to Massachusetts from California. So now the prequel has to take place in California, a place I've spent little time. Thanks to Google I can probably get away with it, but my character was a forestry grad student. So I sent her to UC Berkeley. Now need to learn about flora and fauna of Northern California.

Oh and it takes place in the 1980s. When did mountain lions make a comeback? Or have they always been there? You see my problems.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Kira, research is my favoritepart of the process.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

That's awesome to have that feeling! Very cool. And oh yeah, I think I love Mr. McEwan also.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Ello, he's mine -- and he does have that wife...