Monthly Archives: February 2014

Being consumed

When we write something, we expect it to have an appropriate emotional response in our audience. What I didn’t expect was to be completely consumed by the characters.

This can be a dangerous game.

They are omnipresent. You find yourself thinking “what would my character do if I gave them this situation?” Sometimes, they can consume us so much that we all but disappear until they’re finished.

Some characters provide an excellent outlet for all of the feelings that we as adults have been taught to suppress. In fiction you can play with scenarios; what would happen if I didn’t go to work, drove into the sea, screwed those people (metaphorically and physically). A character can take a hidden part of your personality and exaggerate it, expanding it into someone you wish you could be. They can be inspirational and lead to a lot of discoveries (not always pleasant) about ourselves.

For my first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2011 I wrote about bullying and mental health but began the story with a dramatised scene of one of my own life events. This took me down a path of self-discovery and acceptance, which forced me to re-evaluate some of the critical relationships in my life.  

The character I began toying with more recently made me realise I had tipped over the edge of another unpleasant facet of my own personality, and although I am not as obsessive as my character appears to be I found I was putting more and more of my own experienced emotion into the monolgue. 

I began to dislike the character, her focus, and her energy. She was (and is) too intense and all encompassing.  

She makes for a difficult read. 

She makes for an even more difficult write. 

She was in danger of consuming me so I felt the need to distance myself from her. 

Being a writer can sometimes feel like you’re going a bit mad, but in the most glorious fashion.

Commitment

Writing a novel is a big commitment.

What are we committing to when we give in to the nagging and start to put pen to paper? (or fingers to keyboard. Pick your poison.)

We are committing time.

Writing a novel takes time. A lot of time. Even if you do a NaNoWriMo challenge, you’re still going to be looking at putting between 10,000 and 30,000 words on the end of your winning total. Don’t forget that the actual writing takes place after the planning and research, which in itself can take months.

We are committing our thoughts

Character and plot development take a lot of working out. We might not look like we’re doing anything when we’re staring blankly at the wall, but in fact we are running over a piece of dialogue or a scene and working out those kinks.

We are committing our headspace

Once that character is there it’s like a permanent stain. And even if you can control it during your waking hours, be prepared to be waling your character through their lives while you dream.

We are committing ourselves to heartache

Yep, when you write the words The End on that first draft, it’s going to hurt like hell.

We are committing ourselves to our characters

You, Writer, are the only person alive who knows this character. They deserve to have a chance at the world.

A couple of weeks ago, I reached the commitment stage with an idea I had been playing with for a while.  My character is much more messy than I intended and she was there, loud and proud and I was ready so I took her in and started to write her story.

Now I want a divorce.

She’s a nutter.

Not only is she a nutter but she’s left me and I’m considering some flirtatious antics with another novel.

Looks like I wasn’t as committed as I thought!

Inspiration (a kind of love)

Inspiration is a magical thing. It strikes when we least expect it and enlightens all of our senses. It can make us feel alive, add a breath of fresh air to an ailing work, or simply be something to get the juices flowing. It’s that first rush of love that we feel for a person, a place, an object or a sound that can make our hearts skip a beat, make us smile and make us glow. It’s no wonder we get a bit blocked up at times. An overload can be as overwhelming as an emptiness.

I like to limit my inspiration to auditory. Before I start writing anything, I usually get a feel for what the novel is going to be about and any associated moods to the main theme. Based on this, I can normally make a playlist which I listen to while writing to remind me where I am going. Here is the playlist for my Nanowrimo 2013 novel.

(Playlist is NSFW or children – contains swearing)

Sometimes, however, I get hit so hard by an image that it haunts me until I do something with it.

That happened early this week.

I’m a sucker for a derelict building so I visit various Urban Exploration (and exploitation) sites regularly for my fix since I’m unable to participate. A combination of getting time without the children and finding other like-minded people is hard enough without the additional pressures of being super unlucky, scared of spiders and stairs, and being the most clumsy oaf in the world! During my most recent visit, I found Pemberton House Farm (otherwise known as the Latvian Consulate near Chorley.) and now I am completely head-over-heels in love.

This house has me intrigued. Firstly because of its ties to now derelict theme parks I visited as a child and secondly because the house itself is such an odd layout, with items incongruous to their intended use (for example, an interior deadbolt on a child’s bedroom – how very V. C. Andrews!)

Now I’m overwhelmed with images and storylines, so much so that my ability to sleep has been a little compromised.

I’ll get over it, I’m sure. The images will only be my desktop background for a week or so before my Delicious returns to consume me.

Let me have my moment of inspiration.

The Accidental Novel

Limbo, drifting, lost, wandering. 

The next project is calling; it’s almost there. Almost.  

It’s like a name on the tip of my tongue – I can feel it, taste it, but it’s not formed, not cooked, not ready. 

So I wait.  Keep it churning, keep it moving, keep thinking about it. I’ll know when it needs to escape.

Until then I need something to keep my idle creativity active, lest it takes off into the real world and causes all manner of unpleasantness, so I have been writing… well … Things. 

I have a character. She has no name, no face, no age. She’s a manifestation of feeling. She has nothing in her life apart from the way she feels about him: her Delicious. 

Her thoughts go from examining the things he says and does through to examining her own behaviour, both towards him and in front of others. 

I write about her almost daily. 

It’s her fault I have an Accidental Novel.