I love writing my characters so much. They've become so vibrant, so life-like to me, I find myself almost believing that they could really be real and living out there somewhere.
Today, while writing an email to one of my reviewers, I found myself inspired to write an earlier scene in the book. I'm really happy about this because I've spent quite some time lately working on the last half of it. I was telling her that a character she mentioned was one of my top 5 favorites as well and that I hope she likes the others too, once she meets them in later chapters.
This got me thinking about how Casey is supposed to meet this character. Thinking about this, I suddenly could feel the pressure of a little writing gremlin perching himself on my shoulder. For the moment he was silent, with a very thoughtful look on his face. I decided to let him be and finished my email. He'd let me know when he was ready for me to write, no sense rushing him.
I put my son down for his nap and the scene started playing in my head. Well not the scene that I thought he was thinking about, but the one immediately before it. Just happy to be writing something in the first half of the book, I shrugged and started typing. I typed the last sentence of that scene and *POOF* he was gone. I can still feel him nearby though, maybe later tonight I'll be able to continue on with the next couple scenes as I'm still feeling inspired by them.
Now, when I was typing, I really wasn't thinking too deeply about deeper meaning in anything my characters were doing or saying, or that maybe I should be foreshadowing future events, but in re-reading it I was amazed. Amongst everything else going on, I had laid the first clues of what lies ahead for Casey and the man she falls for. Go subconscious mind!
Writing this scene was also fun because it contained a lot of dialogue between roommates, Casey and Heather. These characters couldn't be more different if they tried, and people often wonder how they are such good friends. But when you hear them talk to each other, in their sisterly banter, it's so obvious that they really are best friends. They pick on each other, they fight... but at the end of the day, they're friends. Being an only child, this is how I imagine older sisters treating each other. Guess I'll just have to wait until my reviewers get to this part of the story to see how believable their interactions are.
With this scene, I'm up to 160 pages now. I can't believe how much I've written since August. I'm having such a blast writing this that, at this point, I can't imagine how people are able to quit writing a book- to be able to give up. I've read that only 3% of books that are begun actually get finished. Doesn't everyone feel this amazing rush when writing? The indescribable drive to record their characters forever in print... The joy that comes just thinking about their story and where it's going... The intense sadness that comes when you aren't able to write...
I can't wait to finish this story and hear what people think about it. I can't describe it, but I have such a good feeling about the possibilities of it being published. I know the odds of an author having their first work published, but it doesn't affect my optimism for some reason, which is weird. I'm usually a worrier that, while typically optimistic, is able to dwell on all of the possible negative outcomes in a situation. I guess I'd say I'm a realist. I know the reality behind me getting this published isn't necessarily that great, but for some reason it doesn't bother me. Maybe I'm spending so much time living in fantasy worlds that I'm losing touch with reality? Who knows? All I know is that just finishing this story will be one of the proudest days of my life, up there with my wedding and the birth of my son.
Let's see, what else... I did some research on local writing groups today. I found one that meets once a month about twenty minutes from my house. They have a membership fee if you want a chance to be published in their yearly anthology or get other perks, but the meetings are free and open to the public. Better yet, the meetings are on Thursdays, a day that my husband always has off of work. Starting in January I think I'm going to check out the group as they don't hold meetings in December. If I like the group, I'll most likely officially join it too. Not only will this give me one night a month where I can get out of the house to interact with other people, but I'll also be able to connect with other local writers.
Looking at the group's schedule for the past year, it looks like they have various authors come and speak to the group, local English instructors come and give workshops, and they have three critique nights a year. So, not only can I network with other published authors, but I can also bring in my work and ideas and get their input too! I'm sold! Maybe some of them would be willing to do a manuscript swap once I finish this book. I give them my honest opinion of their work and they do the same for me. I can only hope!
In case it isn't obvious, I'm reveling in this whole writing thing. With everything I've done in the past in my jobs or in school, I've never felt so... alive, as cliche as that sounds.
A lot of people don't know this, but writing really has helped my mental health status. Shortly after the birth of my son I was diagnosed with post-pardum depression and put on medication, sent to a shrink- the whole she-bang. I quickly realized that the psychiatrist wasn't helping me any, so I stopped those sessions. I've been treated for depression before, when my father died, and therapy was a godsend then. This time, not so much.
I struggled with the depression for over a year before I felt strong enough to wean myself off of the Zoloft. I had a hard time transitioning to life without the meds and was about to call my doctor and ask them to re-prescribe them when I found writing again. I had written quite a bit in high school and junior college, but as my courses got more demanding, I slowly left it behind. But anyway, I started reading fan fiction. Not necessarily great literature, but it was free and some of it was actually pretty good. Slowly I began coming up with my own story ideas. I never actually took any of these ideas beyond a basic outline, but it was a starting point.
It began with me picking the underdog from various shows and creating a happily ever after for them. Then, slowly I noticed that my main characters weren't dependent on the constraints of their original creator's world anymore. Pretty soon my ideas were entirely my own, no longer using other people's characters or settings to tell my stories.
At some point during these months I started trying to write poetry again, as I had enjoyed doing that in high school. I dug out all my old journals and cringed at some of the stuff that I had written (so young and naive...). I did research on how to get back into writing, at this point mostly focusing on poetry and songs since I used to enjoy writing them so much before. I'll admit I wrote a few poems and a song or two during this time, but nothing great. It was fun, but it just didn't flow out of me like it used to.
Poetry felt more like work than I ever remembered it being, so I dug out my old short stories. I think I was maybe 10-14ish when I wrote these stories, so they're not great, but I remember how much I loved writing them. Being the avid researcher, I did research on how to write a good short story. What elements do writer's consider important for a successful story? At what point are short stories considered too long for that term anymore? etc.
Before I knew it, I found myself writing up outlines and synopses for various stories and characters. I still have these, even though they never made it past the outlining stage. They also seemed like they would be too long to be considered a short story. I researched novel writing, never thinking that I'd ever be able to (a) come up with an idea for a story that long or (b) have the discipline to see a project that large to its end. (I'm a true Gemini and get distracted easily...)
Then, while on vacation, it hit me. The idea that has grown to 160 pages and is still going strong. The idea that reintroduced me to my own inner writing gremlin. The characters and story that keep me up late at night and wake me up early in the morning, writing their story and not caring about the lost sleep.
I'm not sure where along this path that I completely overcame my depression, but I know that it's gone. Replaced by something so wonderful, so fulfilling, that I sincerely hope that I can keep writing like this the rest of my life. I can't imagine ever wanting to give up on this story or any of the others that keep popping into my head. My brain is so full of other ideas that I think have a lot of potential that at times I feel like I could burst. Every dream and daydream morphs itself into a full story right before my eyes. Right now I'm resigning myself to simply writing up outlines of these other stories that present themselves to me because I don't think I'm ready to try and write multiple stories simultaneously.
At this point in time I just want to finish Instinct, not because I'm tired of writing it, but so I can share it with others and move on to the next story. The relationships that I see forming between my characters are so touching to me, I just want to see if they affect others the same way. I guess, to make a long story short, I just want to write...