As human beings, we like to believe that we are in control. That the things we do are our own choices and that it hasn’t been predestined for us, that we aren’t doing what some big child in the sky is making her little dolly do. I’ve discovered over time that that is not entirely true for writers. Some of us have little people that reside in our minds until we’ve finished their stories. They take on their own lives in our minds, and on occasion, take over our lives.
Just this week (or weekend, I suppose) I’ve been working on a story that I had put off for a couple of months. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to, but I had two different ways I could go with the story. I liked them both, and couldn’t decide. I was at a standstill. But finally, early this past weekend, I decided on a path to follow. Since then, I’ve barely had a break from writing.
I’m not what one would call a fast writer when it comes to my stories. I usually write a chapter or two during a week, then maybe another on the weekend. Two days ago, I wrote an eight page chapter to the story, and yesterday I wrote two six page chapters. Both times I was writing, I had no control. The characters had sat back and let me decide which path to take with their story, but they had certainly had enough waiting.
It was time to be heard.
And heard they were! I was very impressed by the storyline that came rolling out of my mind these last couple of days, but I wasn’t impressed with the tight grip the characters had on me. It was a command: write. One I had to obey. And I had to eat while I was writing, or not eat at all. I could take small breaks to stretch, but they didn’t last long.
The worst part is the dreams. Scenes that will be written soon taking a life of their own while I sleep. Then, I woke up at 7 AM this morning with a jolt. Two scenes simultaneously flooded my mind and the urge to get out of bed and write them was almost over-powering. I fought it, however, and managed to get back to sleep around 8:30, catching another hour of sleep.
My characters are not usually this demanding when it comes to getting their stories out, though sometimes a scene will come to mind and it is like I have to drop everything I am doing and get it out of my head or I won’t be able to function until I do. That, and what happened to me this weekend and this morning, is rare. Usually it only happens when I have ignored a particular story for a long time. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying to lose control of what you are able to do for a while.
Perhaps I am simply insane, but I have a feeling that many other authors have similar problems with very demanding characters.
Tell me about them.