I have learned a lot about writing in the last two days. I have had the most intense days of writing that I have ever experienced. Characters pressed themselves upon me and I had to put pen to page, literally. I have written 36 pages by hand in two days. Not only that, I have written fiction. While I have had occasional ideas for a short story or a novel, I usually brush them off and assume that if I am going to be a writer it will be non-fiction. Then all of a sudden a character told me her name, and I began to understand what previous authors have said about characters introducing themselves. I was a medium for the characters to tell their stories.
Writing is an art form. It is a way to create, bring beauty, and truth to the world. The will cannot impose itself on the writing. The will is driven by the ego and pride. I am not meaning to sound Freudian here. What I mean is that when I over think what I am doing, the flow of ideas stops. When I start to think about what I am actually doing, I start to tell the character how the story should go. In order to be truly free in writing, I have to let my imagination run free and allow the character to tell me the story. It is a strange and wonderful experience.
When I had two short stories written, in a rough draft form, I was amazed. Two very different pieces with one underlying theme: Love. Not the romantic love that our society holds up as the ultimate good. No real, authentic Love. The laying down of one’s life for another. The choosing of good for another even in the face of death. I now understand how it hurts the writer when a character dies. I never imagined that I would write a novel that contained martyrs. I have the story started, now to fill in the rest. I was heart-broken by the end of it. While I let the ideas flow, they are mixed with my own life experience. Some of the characters have traits of people I know or have known. Some of the characters are my idea of how people I have known could be truly great. Many experience the power of conversion, which leads to sacrifice.
My way of seeing the world is a Catholic one. There is no way to change that. History, current events, the everyday, is seen through they eyes of one who has chosen the hard path of following Jesus Christ. As Christ promised, history has not been kind to his followers, and the future will not be kind to them either. While the novel I am working on has not yet happened, it could. It is my very real, deepest fears come to life on paper. Those fears are redeemed in the story of salvation.
When I told a couple of friends and my husband about the two short stories, they all agreed that I needed to turn at least one into a novel. When we got home and I asked my husband his thoughts. He said that he was taken aback. The story mirrors our life, and yet is not our life. He knows that it is the fears that I keep in my heart as a Catholic, wife, and mother. He was amazed that I would actually write it down knowing that it must have been difficult for me. The thing is that the main character is me and is not me. The other characters are my family, friends, or people from my past, but not them at the same time. It is how I imagine them, it is them in a very different lifetime, or how I imagine some of their traits built up in one person.
The story is full of suspense, betrayal, pain, violence, but great hope and redemption. It is the human story, in all of its brokenness. Redemption in the darkest of hours. I move onto the next phase with fear and trembling. If I think about it too much my insecurities come out. As I write, I constantly hear that voice telling me that it is garbage, pointless, that I should not be writing anything. That is when the will has to come into play and push passed the criticism. I have been criticized for my writing in the past. I have learned that I can not show some of my work to certain people because they just will not understand. I have become more selective with age. For now I will see where the characters lead me and try to enjoy the journey. Keep writing!!!