Friday, November 7, 2008

Like Visiting an Old Friend

The good thing about a writer’s characters is that they will wait for you if they have to. What with one thing and another – mainly my mother’s illness – it’s been about a year since I wrote daily. In an attempt to return to that, I spent most of yesterday refreshing myself on the approximately 30,000 words in the Bombshell’s story.

It was like no time had passed at all. Indeed, for Olivia and Sam, no time had passed. There they waited for me, as patient as you please, until I returned to give them more words, more deeds, more emotions to feel. How kind of them, yes?

While I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone aspiring to write for publication regularly, the distance from the story did afford me a clearer perspective than one gets when one is in the middle of writing it. I was able to read it as a reader would read it. Some of it, anyway. There are always turns and phrases that remain vividly etched in the writer’s mind. Those were not new to me. But I was happy to find surprises as I read. Little things I did not remember that pleased me.

It’s encouraging to read one’s own work and be entertained by it. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the plot of it or the resolution of the conflict that we forget to relax and enjoy our own words.

A writer is his or her own first reader. If we can’t please that reader, how can we expect to please any others?

Happy Weekend to All!

1 comment:

Mark Wolfgang said...

Susan! What's really interesting is when the characters get impatient and refuse to wait for you. Eric, one of our good friends from Peninsula Writers, passed away this year. He never claimed to be a writer, yet some of what he wrote-- because he was our treasurer and joined our retreats and finally gave in to the allure of it-- was quite wonderful. He had started a police procedural, set on Michigan's Mackinac Island. He was setting it up nicely, but he was as slow in his writing as I am. Slower. Occasionally his characters would goad him into visiting them so they could urge him onward. My only regret is that they spent too much idle time on the Island waiting for Eric's return, and weren't sufficiently insistent with him about getting back to them. Now we'll never know their story. The whole thing is a loss on so many counts.

What lesson do I take from this? Probably none at all. I have several characters waiting for me. Fortunately for me, they're patient. --Mark