"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Hello! Life is fairly wonderful right now, if not chaotic. I have been accepted to University College London (!!!) for their Museum Studies Masters program, and found a crown used by the Order of the Eastern Star (a society related to the Free Masons) in my local museum where I'm interning at school, so things are very kooky and cool right now.
This March Round Robin topic was suggested by Dr. Bob who wrote: My friend Anna Jacobs is a bestseller, with now 77 books published, although she is best known in Britain and Australia. She was complaining of being emotionally drained by writing a scene, and said, Are you all sure our characters aren’t real?
So the topic is: Are you ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are your characters to you?
The most simple answer is YES. OH MY GOSH. I'M WEAK. But I can definitely elaborate much further than that. I'm going to take you back to prehistoric times (actually about the eight grade) when I wrote the first draft of Serpents and Flame, a mythological urban fantasy hopefully (!) coming out this year or next. I have one of the first whole drafts saved and it's really something to behold, but the point is that I struggled with this story until sophomore year of college, when I wrote the last chapter of book three between classes in one of my stuffy campus buildings, and promptly began to cry. I'd cried more than a few times over these kids, who were older than me when I started and a year younger than me when I finished. I wrote this scene that wrapped everything up with closure, and it hit me that I'd never again help them think their way out of a tight corner. It was like leaving a friend at a distant airport. I've actually written a couple short stories for my little sister about them, but it's nowhere near the same. I would sit for hours on my bed or at my desk, neck veins taut and fingers flying. I would hardly move except to knock back some coffee. By the end of my writing session, it physically felt like I'd run an uphill marathon. I was psychologically and even physically tired out.
There is this scene also in Monet Evanesce that breaks me even if I reread it. One of its two story lines focuses on a Polish immigrant who just wants to be an artist, and learns underneath the wing of a French-Impressionist-turned-forger. Things transpire, and there is a chapter where something quite awful happens. It has to happen for the foundation of the second story line and I even mention that it happens early on in the book, but I cried so hard I had to stop for a moment, which was shocking because it was simply someone I'd make up. These characters were made of text on a page, had never existed physically, but I feel angry/annoyed/sad/excited, even scared, as my novels progressed. There's a saying that characters have a mind of their own, and it's really true. I start out with a basic plot and a few bullet points. Then my characters decide what they want to do. You can't force them; I've tried and things just get really confusing or refuse to progress.
In my published novellas, Nicholas (2017) and The Christmas Lights (2014), I don't consider those characters as real as the ones I've literally spent years with. I really like them, but they're not nearly as 3D as the people in my novels. I do get pretty emotionally drained at some parts, like in the warehouse scene where Gavon finds Louis in the warehouse yard in The Christmas Lights and and the very last chapter of Nicholas.
How do you feel when you write? Follow along the list below to see which authors possess stone cold poker faces and which ones are more sappy, like me. :)
Dr. Bob Rich