“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou,
Today’s activities will be marked on my calendar. I finally pulled a half-finished novel from my hard drive and blew the dust off it to reconsider. It’s been almost a year, when my decision was to pull the plug on it or save it for a rainy day. Or a day like this.
Scrutinizing why I abandoned the novel is a waste of time now. Before I rescued the incomplete works, I remembered some events from my life back then. Too many distractions had forced my hand. I had to make choices.
Occasionally, my writing has to take a back seat. But, it’s now winter in the Midwest, a time I am not active outside. My chores are caught up…for now. There’s ample time for me to get busy at the laptop.
Soft music is going in the background. Although sometimes, I prefer the solace of a quiet room, this moment works for me. Since rescuing my half-finished novel, I’ve begun editing and now have new inspired ideas.
Deep in my thoughts, this feeling is like finding a long lost friend. Before being abandoned, we spent a lot of time together. We disagreed through several plots, scenes, and rewrites. The novel began to mature and somehow I could not control its new independence.
More of the controller than the author, the story was leading me on journeys through its characters. Places unfamiliar to me.
Today, during re-discovery, I realized this is exactly what a story is supposed to do. So, I asked my characters to lead me in the best direction. It’s now to the point when the story affords me surprises.
My story’s characters are like the best friends I never had, so I should trust them. I’m looking for adventure anyway.
When the story is done, you’ll see their faces, know how they walk, their best moments and their failures. You will be there to witness their attributes and maybe their inconsistencies.
And when you close the book, I hope you’ll remember these characters, take them and keep them with you a while. Because, after all, they were with me for a long time. They mean something to me. I accompanied them through their adventures, walked in their shoes and met their friends.
Yes, I was in my happy place, writing this novel. So much that at the end of any writing day, the transition back to normal life takes a few moments. A short period of time where love and hate intermingle.
You should know I’m writing this novel because I have to write. The craft of writing is a part of me. It’s much easier to do, than not to do. Almost as important as having the air to breathe.
My family worries about me. They often think I’m wasting my time, living inside of fiction and fairy tales. They’re upset because it may infect my brain in the wrong way. Whatever that means. And I ask them not to punish me in this way.
“What are you writing about? What’s the story? Am I in it?” they ask. This is when I show impedance because they cannot know until the story is finished. My cognizance of a story changes the same way my feelings change.
“If I tell you now, things may change,” I answer them. “And I don’t want to disappoint you.”
Any revisions I make to the story are to make it better. There’s no way they’d understand my rational or fictional thoughts.
A novel in the works is like a runaway, insinuating itself into my thoughts any time of day and night. This facet of my imagination delivers instructions for me to follow. I embed these instructions into my memory, or on a notepad where it will be available for my next writing session. ‘This is what has to happen next.’
If I could fit the entire story into my brain, if I had that power, certainly I wouldn’t do it. Because it might suck the fun and challenge out of it. And, I’d never meet my characters.
I’d never meet myself.
Because you see, my heart is there, too.