Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talk to Me...


Writing fiction is one of those jobs that can sometimes be impossibly difficult to explain.
I am often asked where my ideas come from. Truthfully, I don't really know.
Where did the story for Yesterday's Tomorrow come from? Who knows. It just showed up one day and demanded to be told.
And that, my friends, is the reason for the officious looking couch at the top of this post.
I want you to know, and you heard it here first, that writers are crazy.
I'm utterly serious. Who in their right mind would want to spend hours upon hours in front of the computer, banging out pages of words that quite often don't make a lick of sense until the second draft? Who really wants to subject themselves and their babies to the harsh critique of other writers who just wish they'd written something half as good but can't so they're taking their anger out on your manuscript. (Did I mention we're also paranoid?)
And then there is the excruciatingly painful process of writing the synopsis, and the query letter, and finally submitting your work to agents and editors. Think of undergoing a root canal without anesthesia.
Given all of the above, one must ask the obvious. WHY??
Why do we do it?
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I have to admit, I have no freakin' idea!!
Just kidding. Sort of.
Writing is kind of like an addiction. Once you start, it's really difficult to stop. And next thing you know, you're actually getting published and it's become 'your job'. Hey, there are worse jobs out there.
Yes, it's a lot of hard work, but there is nothing that compares to a great day of writing. Knowing you're finally getting somewhere with your story. And if you're really lucky, you'll be in the middle of a chapter and all of a sudden your characters will blindside you by doing something so unexpected and unplanned, that you sit there staring at the page for a good ten minutes wondering what just happened.
That's what we call being In The Zone.
I had this happen to me just the other day. I was like, what?? You did what? You never told me this. But oh, it's so perfect, of course you did!
Told you we're nuts.
Now I can't relay the details of that specific character because that would ruin it for you. But he literally stepped off the page and told me his story. And it was awesome.
So talk to me. Tell me how crazy you are.
What's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to you as a writer? Do your characters talk to you too?

10 comments:

Anne K. Albert said...

Oh, wow. I completely agree. We're all crazy...and I love it. :)

Laura Josephsen said...

Oh, definitely. My characters are stubborn and willful, wait until the last minute to tell me an important piece of information about themselves, and constantly surprise me. They sometimes fall in love with the person they weren't supposed to fall in love with. They clamor in my head at insane hours of the night. And when I have to ignore them for a few days to edit another novel, they get extremely irritated and plot crazy things behind my back.

And if you tell this to someone who is not a writer, or does not live with a writer, then you sound completely insane. ;)

T. Anne said...

They never stop! But I do have to say there is a comfort in knowing they'll never go away. ;)

Katie Ganshert said...

I have characters who pop up out of nowhere sometimes. It's always fun. I think a lot of times the Holy Spirit gives me direction when I write.

Bruce Judisch said...

The surprises are the best. "Miss Potter" had it right when she said, "There's something delicious about writing the first line of a story. You never know where it will take you."

I had a character I'd originally intended to be little more than a minor prop in one scene suddenly jump up and do something totally unexpected. I sat back from the keyboard and thought, "Hmm. I wonder why he did that." So, to find out why he did that, I leaned forward and started pounding keys again. He turned out to be the prime character in the final crux scene of the book--changed the ending entirely. Now, that's fun. :-)

Oh, the character never did get a name....

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I got one idea at the doctor's office and had to frantically find a pen asap! I also act out facial expressions. My husband loves watching that (and commenting)!

~ Wendy

Catherine West said...

Loving the comments. Makes me feel a little less crazy. Or at least in good company!
:0)
Happy writing, everyone!

Karen said...

Catherine, on writing a scene, one of my characters started yelling at me!! Yikes. :P

Heather Sunseri said...

I love it when a surprise character pops up with such an incredible voice and attitude that he/she becomes a main character.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I think the shadow man visiting me, but that may have happened even if I wasn't a writer, unless I am completely nuts and there really wasn't a shadow man and in that case, how will I never know - lawd!