Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Writing when I am in a ‘mood’ always makes me, the writer behind the keyboard, feel better. But what I have discovered is, that when I go back to look at what I wrote during times of heightened emotions, I often have taken my characters to dark places—emotionally and otherwise. As I re-read a scene I had written yesterday, it became quite clear that this was the case. Prior to writing this scene, my character was standing on top of cliff, looking down at the main street of the town she lived in. Her emotions were already swirled up from the action in the story that just preceded her walk, and there were dark storm clouds rolling towards her, to reflect her emotions. As I sat down to write, my mood was just as dark as those clouds.

Let me give you a bit of background information to give you an idea of the exact kind of mood I was in. See, I’ve been overwhelmed of late. Between work, teaching part time, school, looking for a new job, writing, commitments to family and friends, and well, just life in general, I’ve been barely treading water. And it’s hard for me to admit that—like pulling out my teeth without any pain medication hard--because it makes me feel like a failure. My mind does these crazy things where I start asking myself why I can’t juggle everything at once? How come everyone else seems to have it so together with their busy lives, but me, I’m a frickin disaster? Of course that is just my own warped perception of things-I don’t actually believe everyone has it together. It's just moments of self-doubt that creep in every once in awhile and this time, I couldn't shake that, “I’m a f-ing failure’ feeling. For the last several weeks I've been getting closer to the edge of my own figurative cliff and yesterday brought me right up to it. I knew I had to do something to get my jumbled thoughts and emotions back in their right and proper boxes and so I dove right into the scene. What I didn’t know was just where this would lead my character.

Abby is the name of the character I was writing at the time, and she is the lead character in this WIP. She is a fun character who has had her share of difficulties, but at this point in the work, she thought her life was finally coming together. But, alas, after what I wrote last night and this morning, I don't think that will be happening in the way I had planned. I took her to a place that I don't think I can, or want, to take her back from. She made a huge, colossal mistake, like so many of us do in life, and to just go back and erase that scene would be, in my mind, too easy. I wrote what I wrote, and feel that now, I should live with the consequences of the direction Abby has found herself in, and see where it takes her from there. It has shaken up the plot in a way that I hadn't intended but...I think is a good thing. Now she has an unexpected internal struggle-and a significant one-to deal with. This means adjusting my outline, deleting some planned scenes and adding in some others and changing the directions of a few other characters--all adding up to more work for me. But the shake up was needed for this WIP and it feels right, which is perhaps what is most important.

The crappy mood I was in when I started writing was at least good for something. It resulted in such an interesting twist in the lives of my character(s), and as an added bonus, it didn't take long for my own emotions to settle and to realize that I have to just slow down, and take it one thing, and one day, at a time. I was at the edge, and definitely stumbled, but I pulled myself up from my knees and dusted myself off.  This time, instead of taking it all on again like I'm some sort of super-human, I'm taking a step back to look around, enjoy the view, and just...breathe. Now it's Abby's turn to try and do the same.


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