Monday, April 2, 2007

Character Writing

There is no sleeping in around here. Even on the days when I don't have to get up, I still do. My biological clock is set to go off around 5:00 every morning, and even when I try to slap the mental snooze button, it's hopeless. I'm awake. Thinking. Fortunately, my husband has the same setting on his biological clock. Or maybe because his is set the way it is, mine's adapted. Regardless, we're up early, and the kids are, too. Our sophomore gets going at 6:10 in order to catch the 7:05 school bus. But this morning I didn't get up. I sat up, but that's not the same thing as rushing the kids off to school. This morning, since Mark had the day off, he brought me my laptop and said, "Stay here. I'll take care of the kids." My natural inclination was to get up and micromanage. It's a mom thing, as they say. But instead I resisted the urge, turned on my laptop and got busy on that grueling rewrite. The amazing thing is, it didn't feel grueling today. I wrote in bed until 1:00, and I wrote some funny stuff. (I love cracking myself up--sometimes I think I write so that I can have a good laugh. Not really, but it make the process so much more enjoyable.) I'm slowly turning a corner on this manuscript. I think my problem was, I wasn't letting my character have any fun. Now she is, so now I am. It's strange how fully I adopt my character's mood. I must be a 'character writer' (like a 'character actor'). If my character's distressed, I'm distressed. If they're happy, I'm happy. The problem being, a main character's issues aren't usually resolved until the end of the book. And since they're not happy until the end of the book I'm not either. And when a book is done, I do take a few celebratory days off, but then I become unsettled because my routine is broken. I start needing to write a new book. And of course once I do, the process starts all over again, with a character who needs to resolve a problem, which I adopt and stew over until the end of the book... I think that's why the funny moments are so important to me. They break it all up into manageable segments. They feel way better than reaching the end of a book. They're unexpected and uplifting and refreshing. And laughing just feels good. So I had a great day writing. It may even have been a great writing day.


Erin Dealey said...

Thanks so much for sharing your grueling-rewrite-thoughts. (I'm stalling here before tackling my own mg grueling rewrites.)You made my day!

All Best,
Erin Dealey

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Hey, Erin

I'm glad it helped! Remember--there will always be chores and other things that "need doing". You've got to make the time to write!

Page by page...that's how all writers make it happen.