When a Book Finds the Writer

This morning as I was going about my regular routine–making coffee, getting breakfast– I realized that I had this first person narrative running in my head. This one way dialogue went on for awhile until I realized what was happening. I wasn’t talking to myself (thank goodness!) but rather someone else was doing the talking–not necessarily to me. I just happened to be the one listening.

I was kind of surprised once I realized what was taking place because all things indicted that I was either having an “episode” or else a character from a story had suddenly jumped to the surface and was demanding some airtime.

Now, that might be a frightening concept to some of you, but I think most writers will agree that they’ve experienced this many times.

Here’s what I discovered in those brief moments about this character that I have yet to be properly introduced to.

She is my age, or close to it, a bit on the crusty side; someone who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, someone who has lived long enough to appreciate certain truths that others might not want to admit to–all that I gleaned from those first few moments of listening to her speak.

She spoke with honesty, from the heart, holding nothing back and in just a few moments I knew quite a bit about her. It wasn’t a soft hearted narrative as is sometimes the case with my characters; like I said, she was crusty–she was crusty and I liked what I’d heard so far. First impressions being what they are.

Then I realized, this is a new character, a new book, and it had come looking for me.

For me! Me, the writer who has a cruelling five weeks of edits still lurking in the shadows.

So what to do?

I can’t very well abandon my edits. I’m on a timeline and there is plenty ahead in my path. I take deadlines very seriously. I’m sort of a come-hell-or-high-water person. I don’t like to disappoint others or myself. If there is anyway humanly possible for a deadline to be met or exceeded (I prefer exceeding) I will do it.

So, I put the character away for another time with the hopes that she’ll come back with that same spunk and crustiness as before. I’m sure I’ll invite her back into my mind again in the very near future, and should she relay any gems, regardless of the impending edits, I’ll be taking notes.

In the meantime, I have a YA novel that is nearing completion and some short stories I was revisiting before this latest round of edits came in. All that has been put on the back burner until the end of February at least.

If some of this sounds a little offbeat to you, that’s perfectly fine. I’m a writer and as many writers will tell you, we are not always in control of the story we are writing. Inspiration is a strange unusual commodity for most writers. It sometimes seeks us out. It can be uninvited and not always welcomed. Most times it is persistent, but it is in this persistence that books come into being.

These are just a few of my thoughts on this wintry Tuesday–now back to my edits!

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6 Comments

  1. Susan White

     /  January 25, 2022

    I have always found if a scene or a character is meant to be they will return.

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  2. Others may not believe these things but they do happen to us writers. I have a couple of characters that are screaming at me to let them tell their story. An older gentleman gave one of my writer friends a ride to our meeting, but I thought he was a new member. So I asked him what he wrote. He quickly said, “Oh no. I am not a writer. I am an ordinary person.” We laughed and all agreed that writers are definitely not ordinary people.

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  3. I just finished reading Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea and then you write this. Woo Woo. Make sure you take some notes about your new character or you’ll find she won’t let you sleep at night.

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    • I’ll have to check The Winter Sea out! Yes, notes are are good thing. I don’t always map things out ahead of time, but I do make notes about my characters from time to time, especially when I’m just getting to know them. Friendships take time to evolve. 😀

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