Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's a good thing they don't hold grudges.

There is a downside to writing, I have learned. You can leap forward with all the passion you can muster and then suddenly... everything seems silly and contrived. How could you possibly think any of this stuff would work?
Or...even worse and most recently...you start to really like your characters. REALLY like them. To the point that you feel bad when you do stuff to them.
Case in point: I was writing and I knew I had to get my character from one point to another. I knew he had to be discovered thanks to noise. But what I didn't know, and totally startled myself with, was by hurting him. Very badly. This caused him to scream and alert soldiers out on patrol that he was there.
Wow...wow...even now I sit here and feel a little clench in my chest. The character isn't real and I know this. He doesn't exist outside the confines of the written page. But somehow he lives and breathes through me and the thought that I could put him through that makes my stomach turn a bit. It makes me wonder...if I could so flippantly create something in my mind like that, create a scenario where someone gets hurt, am I just a little bit of a monster? Or am I just like every other human being out there, except that I put it down on paper and admit to it publicly? Who knows.
But I do know that I hurt my character very badly the other day. And I got up and walked away in shock because I hadn't known when I sat down that the story was going to turn that way. I had to because I was too scared to sit there and get him back out of the predicament after what I'd just done to him.
Contrary to popular belief, I am learning that rarely is the whole story worked out before one sits down to write it. The story actually creates itself and borrows your fingers. In the end the filter that you get to put between the brain and the keyboard is very small, or outright ignored. If you know what you're doing and if you don't strangle it to death.
This is another thing I have discovered. If you sit down to write and you just don't care about what comes out, your mind can weave things of serious beauty and complexity. When you release your stranglehold on what should be done and just let what could be done happen, it comes out a lot less like crap and a lot more like something with some possibilities in it.
Either way, I'm in love with it. And I feel bad for everything I'm about to do to my characters. But the tale wouldn't have it told any other way.

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