Confession: I like to play with characters I have seen or read. Give me a good book, movie, or TV series, especially one with romance involved, and I’ve played with the characters. Most involve figuring out what happens next. Where their lives go after the book ends, the credits roll, the episode stops.
This doesn’t feel normal. I feel bad for playing with other writer’s characters. Is this akin to eyeing my best friend’s husband? If it is then I have committed worse deeds in my youth: fan fiction. My younger years had me writing, and posting on the Internet some fan fiction. This was prior to setting out to write my own work. Before I honed my craft. I shudder when I try and re-read them, and not because I’m using characters not created by myself.
This past week I read a book that left me less then satisfied. Since then I have been rewriting the ending. Deciding how I would have ended the novel should it have been my work. The characters were good, or good enough that I was invested. I want the better pay off. Since I spend a decent amount of time in fictional La-La Land, might as well get a better pay off for myself.
It’s making me feel crazy. And guilty. Should I be playing with someone else’s work? Even if it’s just for myself and not an audience, for my fan fiction days are over. This nagging in my stomach tells me I should leave these characters alone.
Time to push myself back into my own novel. Rewrite my own characters. Find some scrap of their future left to be tackled. I might need new characters to play with. Problem being that creating a character is the hardest part of starting a novel for me. I enjoy playing with characters already established.
Fellow writers, tell me if this is normal. Or if I am one step closer to the crazy house.
In light of the Marathon Bombing that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013, and being born and bred in Massachusetts, I need to devote this blog entry to the unbelievable happenings of the past week. I have never been more proud to call myself a Bostonian. I’ve spent the majority of my life on the North Shore, but did live in the downtown area for the two years I went to Boston University. What we’ve witnessed this past week has been mind numbing.
My heart goes out to those that lost their lives and limbs that day. My heart goes out to the families. My heart goes out to all of us grieving, trying to cope. Trying to understand why anyone would harm a family event.
Yet I believe one thing, and as Bostonians we proved it: we will not be forced into fear. We will not back down. We will not forget. I know runners already planning to run next year. I have no doubt that the Boston Marathon of 2014 will be a huge event. A carefully watched and controlled event, but a huge celebration. Because we are Boston.
I am humbled by the events that unrolled in the week after the bombings. Five days later those responsible were caught. For one day all of Massachusetts (and beyond) held their breath. Some of us stuck at home or work, sheltering in place, as police and FBI did their job. They brought justice for the now four victims. They stopped the fear. Above all, they did their job. And we are forever thankful.
I spent the day glued to the television, to social media, getting updates on what was going on. Even though I was not in the affected lockdown cities I changed plans from outside to inside, keeping my young son safe. The air was different that day. And I felt pride. Pride that less then a week later the bad guys were caught. The whole situation was unreal, is unreal, and will be unreal for quite some time. I am thankful not more lives were lost. I morn the few that were and the unimaginable recoveries some individuals and families face.
I am proud to be a Bostonian. We are not to be messed with. We are Boston.
My birthday was this past week. I am one of the few who loves birthdays. A chance to celebrate, to have a special day, it still holds that magic from childhood. I’m in my 30’s, with white hair popping through, so I’m no longer a young naive thing!
This year my birthday wasn’t a fun bag of tricks. I’ll spare you all the details. Trust me when I say I earned a do-over. There was one shining light at the end of the tunnel: my cake.
I love cake. I am powerless to resist a good piece of cake. When Passover falls on my birthday I cry over the delay in my birthday cake. This year, after the not-so-good day, I saw this was my cake:
Score one for my wonderful husband! There it is folks, the first edition of my first novel, and it’s edible to boot! I suspect that I’ll go for different cover art when it’s time to publish, but this was so cool and turned my bad day right side up.
There was even binding writing!
I am happy to report that my book tastes yummy. I am a delicious writer.
This is Oreo, my five-year-old cat. In this picture I was trying to write. She was curled up on my arm. And this was an improvement. Moments earlier she was walking across my keyboard. Threatening to highlight and delete freshly written material. Or simply fill my manuscript with the letter “Q”. She hasn’t explained the significance as of yet.
Oreo is one of three cats that I have at home. Our plan was to adopt a dog but our life style wasn’t a good match. So we adopted a cat and I realized that even though I tried to be a dog person, I’m a cat person. Even if my allergies disagree.
None of my cats are normal. Oreo is deaf, has no peripheral vision, and her nose isn’t the best. She’s a tiny little gal and a former stray. The smallest at home she’s still top cat. Her favorite past times, besides attacking my lap, are trying to escape, knocking cups over for water, and counter surfing even though she knows she’s not supposed to. She also is very demanding for scratches. She will stare at us and paw our noses until we give in and show some loving.
Anytime I set up to write on my laptop Oreo comes sauntering into the room. The first game we play is her trying to get into my lap, and me shielding the keyboard in a feverish attempt to preserve my manuscript. She’ll either sit on my laptop table, angling the laptop towards her. Or she’ll insist on curling up in my lap.
One of these days I’ll open up a fresh word document for her and see what she wants to write. If it’s any good I’ll share it with you.
I also have a three-year-old that likes to see me writing and start writing himself. It’s awfully cute until it interrupts my productivity. If you ever see a blog entry with the ABC’s and numbers you’ll know its my protégé taking a stab at this blogging thing.
Embracing my writing side I worry more and more about my sanity. My characters talk to me. I have conversations with them in my head. And then, to top it all off, I write about them. So not only are they figments of my imagination. Figments that have well developed personalities, physical attributes, and expansive back-stories. But I share this with others. I am telling the world: Hey, come meet several of my closest imaginary friends that I have written about.
Each of my characters has their own voice. I spend my quiet time having them interact in my head, fleshing out scenes or just playing with back stories that will help me flesh out other areas of my books. Isn’t this two-steps away from having a multiple personality disorder?
To make matters worse I argue with my characters. I have had some vicious fights over the outcome of a story. There is a plot in my sequel that I hadn’t planned on writing. If written at all it would have been in a hypothetical third book. But my characters yelled at me. They begged. They bought my flowers. When all else failed they offered up chocolate and I found myself powerless to resist. They successfully got their plot written.
Just last week I complained to my husband that my character was writing her scene on a more somber note then I had planned. Umm, who’s the writer here? Why am I letting my character write a scene any differently that I had intended?
Oh, that’s right. Because I am insane. My name is Laura Brown and I am an insane writer.