I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Silence is Golden
First, the project--another book, of course. I've debated for months about this one. When I came to the end of Offered for Love, I wasn't sure I was done with the story. The book was certainly long enough. The final scenes seemed a good place to wrap up that chapter of Emily and Stani's story, and the epilogue had been written some time earlier. While I could have just gone on and on with numerous plots involving the ever-growing cast of characters, I chose to end there for one very good reason. Going forward would lead me to a place I felt unprepared to venture. There was more to the story, but I needed to wait, to listen and probably to heal a little more before proceeding.
So I wrote Shannon's Daughter, a book I've been wanting to take a run at for some time. It was a challenge I enjoyed, despite periods of frustration and self-doubt. It was a growing experience, a test I needed to pass for myself. Done. Published. Verdict still out, but no matter the response to this one, I'm glad I wrote it.
Now it's time to go back, or forward, depending on your perspective, I guess. The epilogue of Offered for Love alludes to Emily's recovery following a coma. In my head, I knew the details of that journey. I'd unintentionally done the research--far more in-depth research than for any other of my projects. You see, I made a very similar journey with my daughter ten years ago. When I asked her permission to take this route, making sure she knew this was a fictional account and not a veiled retelling of her story, she agreed that the knowledge we gained then should be put to use. I'm finding that's easier said than done.
Every writer draws on their own experience, but the closer I get to the reality of my life or that of those I love, the more my emotions get in the way of the writing. It's difficult to distance myself, to allow my characters to express their response without overshadowing it with mine. I know how I felt in a given situation, but that's not necessarily the way Stani, or Lil, or Peg would react. Stepping back far enough to observe them is essential. And hard. Really hard.
So I'm writing quietly, trying to keep my voice out of the dialogue and listening to what they have to say. In this case, silence is not only golden, it's essential. My experience may inform the story, but my characters have the right to react in their own way, remaining true to themselves. After all this time with these people, I respect and admire them as if they were real. I owe it to them to let them tell you this story, their story, not mine. It may take some time. I hope it will be worth the effort, and the wait.
As to that other thing, life. I won't elaborate here, that's probably a post or two in itself. Suffice it to say that in the past ten days, I've learned of the passing of two people who had a tremendous influence on me at various times in my life. I feel a bit as though I've run full tilt into not one but two stone walls, breathless and bruised. Not particularly conducive to creativity. A few days to adjust to the fact that our time together in this life is over, to revisit some good and not so good times, and I'll get back to the business at hand--living and writing--and loving it.