Pig Identity–Do You Write in Character?

My two-year-old granddaughter is obsessed with pigs. She loves to draw pigs, read about pigs, she even likes to dress up like a pig. I bet if someone asked her she’d say her favourite book was “The Three Little Pigs.” The week she visited with us, she wore her pig hat most of her waking hours. At night, she’d often wake and cry, “Want to be a pig.” Oh yeah, she’s got a real pig identity problem.

As a writer, I can relate to how she feels. When my writing is going well, and the story is flowing, it usually means I’m writing in character.  What’s writing in character? Simple. As events pop up along the way, I feel the character’s emotions, as surely as if I were that character. Now, I don’t usually feel the need to dress up, but I’ve heard of some writers who do, to make their writing feel more authentic. I’m no one to judge, if it helps someone make it through a scene I’m all for it.

Personally speaking, writing in character provides me with insights into the thoughts, emotions and actions of the characters, but it doesn’t mean the story will automatically write itself. Oh no, there’s a little bit more to it than that. For me, character is important, as important to the story as the people in my life. When I’m out and about in the world, the things I do always seem to pale in comparison to the interaction with the people involved. I know not everyone shares this sentiment. That’s okay. There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that goes like this: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  This kind of sums up the way I feel about the characters I write. At the end of the book, I’d like them to be remembered for the way they made you, as a reader, feel.

So, like any two-year-old, Miss Charlotte might sometimes be a bit confused about the character she’s portraying and exactly which way she’s headed, the laughs and giggles she presents us with is what we’ll remember the most. In a few days she’ll be bringing her mom for another visit, and while I’m not sure if the pig hat is still part of her everyday apparel, I’ll always look back with fondness at those days when nothing seemed more important to her than her declaration of, “Want to be a pig!”

Writers, do you always know which way your character is going or do you show up and wait to see what happens? Do you ever write in character?

All About Change

As I mentioned in my last post we spent the weekend with my daughter, her husband and our granddaughter in New Brunswick. They are a four-hour car drive away, that’s four hours if you don’t make any stops along the way. (Three and a half hours if you’re my son-in-law.)

We made several stops; the trip seemed to go on forever. I went prepared, though, armed with a copy of Tom Sheppard’s, Historic Bridgewater, and a notepad. I’ve had Tom’s book for sometime but hadn’t got around to reading it. My to be read list is long. I sometimes get distracted. A new book comes along, one that I have to read immediately. I can’t help myself.

Okay, so I really am a history nut. There’s so much to be learned about our present and our future by turning toward the past. Whenever I read a history book I’m always reminded that history is all about change and preserving what once was. Life is about change. It has to be.

Not only did I dig into Tom’s book but I made plenty of notes during the trip for my present work in progress. (I guess I wasn’t very good company!) Ideas seemed to fly as the miles went by. I knew I couldn’t rely upon my memory to remember these things later on. I don’t often think to bring a notebook along with me but this time I did. I seldom plot my stories out on paper, but this particular story has been dancing around in background for some time, flaring up every now and again to let me know it’s time will one day come. I haven’t given up on it. It just hasn’t been quite ripe until now.

What amazed me about the weekend was realizing how our granddaughter has grown. The changes had happened slowly over the days and weeks, but for us it seemed so sudden. Then comes the nagging reminder of all those little moments we are missing out on. It had been seven weeks since we last saw her. So many changes have taken place. Babies are like that. Just try and stop them!

But I do not dare spend my time dwelling about all the things we are missing out on or all those little changes that we aren’t there to see.  I am choosing to enjoy each precious moment as it comes along.

The weekend was great and we had a terrific time, and although Miss Charlotte won’t see us as often as we might like those precious bonds are still being formed.

And now it’s back to the real world, back to daydreaming about all those little changes we won’t be there to see as they unfold, and back to a story that has suddenly decided the time is right.

Oh Baby!! Do I have bragging rights?

Okay, so tell me she’s not the sweetest grandkid ever…

Now that I’m a grandmother, I’m told that, a certain level of obnoxiousness is acceptable. Although this isn’t going to turn into a “how much I love my granddaughter blog,” I have to at least do one blog post. Right?

The people who know me outside this blog know that this past week has been a very exciting time for me. Last Friday I became a grandmother for the first time and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time with my daughter, her husband, and new baby in Moncton. Being a country girl, this is the longest I’ve spent in any city. Oh the traffic! That’s certainly something you don’t hear so much of in good old E. Dalhousie.

So here I’ve been this past week doing what’s needed and offering support. (I can remember how unsure I felt about being a new mother the first time around.) But my daughter and her husband are both more than capable, and I have every confidence that they’ll get along fine. It’s been fun to be here this past week, to be able to help out but not take over—- if you know what I mean.

That’s my news this week. I have been working on a short story as well but somehow that news seems to pale alongside the BIG news.

Now to prove I’m not totally obnoxious and self-centred, I’ll give any of you a chance to talk about whatever you’re just itching to tell the rest of the world. Okay..ready..Here you go….

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