Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sanity Check...Keeping Your Characters at a Distance

If you follow this blog, then you know I've written a novel, and I'm now in the process of editing it, start to finish. Although Waiting for Paint to Dry is a fictional work in it's entirety, it also has significant elements that ring true to my personal life, past. This brought up some great questions concerning the repercussions of doing so, mainly what other people will find out and how you will feel about them knowing these true details of your life.

Since writing Waiting for Paint to Dry and successfully finishing the first draft, I re-lived my real life events during the beginning stage of the novel. It was a rather cathartic undertaking, dissecting and examining those events and myself at that time, but it turned out to be one that had tremendously positive results for both my book and my psyche.

HOWEVER, there was something that I hadn't considered as a side effect of including those true life events, until recently. Although editing has improved my book to the point of publish ready, it has also incurred a dramatic negative effect on me, to my psyche.

The editing process...

I didn't realize that by going back through the chapters, beginning to end, I would again be brought face to face with the demons that I have already conquered. Although I worked through the healing process in real life long ago, then again while writing out the first draft, my character, Matty Bell, will forever live in still life.

Flip the book open to any page, and that's where she's at, at the moment. She's forever stuck. She doesn't move forward unless you read on.

At the beginning of the book, my main character has yet to over come anything. And since her emotions are so raw, so real, I've had to relive and relive and relive the roller-coaster with her, while I edited and edited and edited the first few chapters. They are dark ones, reader be forewarned.

And because I was in the trenches, again, with her, it took me a good long while to notice that her internal turmoil was effecting me. For a while there, I felt as though the events that took place in my own life, that I've weaved into my novel, were happening all over again...and again...and again.

And I felt stuck too! I haven't felt like that in years. Stuck in the past. I was again reliving the moments, not being able to stop thinking about them, talk about them, like I was at the beginning of my own healing process all over again...

The moment I finished editing chapter 3, its final run of edits, I finally pinpointed my problem: I was feeling stuck because I was reliving the trauma by reading and editing it so many times over. It was all coming back to life.

Needless to say, I started with a few mantras right then and there, reminding me that this happened a long time ago, and that I'm a new person now. And better for it.

Although I feel sorry for Miss Matty Bell, she too will be fine, soon. I just have to edit on so I can bring her to the place of healing that I've come to know and love.

And that will happen soon. Very soon...

I'm so excited and relieved to get beyond the dark shadows of my book. I'm now moving on into the lighter pigments, which cast a beautiful glow. I like the sound of that side effect.

The rest of the book, after she gets going, is a fun ride for sure, reader be ready!

Then, in the end, she... Well, you'll have to read it for yourself to find out.