I love it most times. The writing process, well MY writing process, is unexpected, temperamental, and stunning when it wants. I hope you won’t find me strange when I admit my characters talk to me. And when they give me a hint of where they’d like to go next in the story, I get an exuberant excitedness that I’d probably be embarrassed for anyone to see. But it’s honest and it’s surprising and as much as I’ve always loved writing, I’ve never experienced anything like it outside of this type of writing – novel writing.
There are silent, stuck moments where the characters seem to be in on a secret I haven’t discovered yet. Those days frustrate me because writing through them feels so halting, if I can use halting that way. But I try to relax. If there’s a secret, they’ll eventually tell me.
So, I search for that exuberant moment. I set my morning up for that moment. I wake up early enough for at least two hours of writing time before work. Currently, it’s spring and there is a very aggressive bird singing me out of any potential sleepiness I may have by 5:45 am EVERY morning. I may light a candle. I heard Toni Morrison did so to set her writing space (and well, I am completely enamored with her stories, so…). Sometimes I don’t do the candle thing. And I really think that’s because the candle I have smells like a bar of soap to me. And this book is many things, but soapy clean is not one of them. The scent just doesn’t fit.
I sit on the left edge of my bed with my typing tray and my lamp on. I used to say I’d rather handwrite than type. And that’s because I had never attempted to write a novel until last year. Maybe one day, I’ll try it. A handwritten novel. Hm, that sounds like a good title!
During my writing process I notice certain scenes sound like songs. Romance does and always will, sound like 1996 in my head, unfortunate as that may be. And thanks to our modern marvels, I can play any one of my inspirational 1990s teen angsty love songs on demand. That’s an awkward and funny fact to realize. But alas.
Suspenseful scenes sound like certain half-step chords in my mind. I feel those sounds right at the top of my belly. It’s kind of a visceral thing. I like it as much as I strive to understand it.
So, with the bird outside, and the maybe candle, a lamp and tray and laptop, I try to dive back into their world. The characters’ world. I have come to see that I can’t write about the characters, I have to write to be the characters. Every character. And that’s much more difficult than just being me. Not shocking, I know. I look for the character who is most open or accessible or demanding. Or the one who has been bugging me all night, if it’s been one of those nights.
In writing Family Medicine, there is one character that is always calling my attention. When I start my writing for the day, I think of where this character is in relation to the main character and jump off from there. That’s true even if this character is not in the scene or chapter at all.
And even though I can’t always or don’t always find the exuberant moment, I’m intrigued by these characters and their world and their motivations – and the fact that they already know the story I’m aiming to write. They let me in, unabashedly, and that’s enough for me.