The Spark of Life

There’s a period after I finish a book where the world and characters stay with me. If I really enjoyed the book, I relish in it longer, trying to make the feeling last. I welcome anything that reminds me of the characters or place.

When I was younger I would imagine being in the world. I would be a character I liked or add myself to the story in some way. This type of play allowed me to either empathize with a character and their motives or look at the world more closely. Often, I’d change the way things actually went in the story. Sometimes writing still reminds me of that type of play which, I suspect, is its great appeal.

The other day, I was washing dishes, and I was lost in the world of my own novel. Now, I’ve been consumed in writing before while struggling to figure out the mechanics of how to pull something off. I’ve spent many distracted days this way. (You can ask my husband.) I’ve analyzed my characters, their motives and their neurosis. But in that small and unexpected moment at the kitchen sink, I saw my story world as separate from myself. Yes, it is something I created and manipulated. Still, somehow, now it seems alive, when it did not a moment before. It has rules and a structure, and I am only there to help guide these people on their way. And that, my friends, is pretty exciting.

Tell me what it is like for you.

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6 thoughts on “The Spark of Life

  1. So I never really write fiction, but I’ve always loved reading it, and I’ve thought about this before. I’ve heard authors (or writers on my favorite tv shows) say that they didn’t want to divorce a couple, kill off a character, have little Anna fall down the stairs, etc, but they couldn’t help it – they were just telling the story the way they knew it had to be. I never understood that. In the case of greys anatomy, for instance…WHY did they have to shoot derek? The writers could have changed that! These people aren’t real!
    But it’s really interesting to hear a writer talk about that transition where the characters become real people and have minds of their own, that produce outcomes outside what the writers or readers may want.

    • It’s interesting to hear your thoughts on this since most of the people I know are fiction writers. Sometimes I just assume that people know what it is like to write fiction because they write at all. But I don’t know that much about writing poetry, for example. It’s a totally different animal.

      I think I am in control of a lot of the aspects of a story, but there are many times when I think the story should go one way and I realize that it doesn’t make sense the way that the character has evolved. I could force my character to do whatever I want, but it would probably make for a less organic and compelling story in the end.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Whoops smartphone posted that before I finished! But basically, I’m starting to believe I may have been wrong. Even if I’m still mad that they shot derek. I swear I read, by the way, but grey’s was top of mind, for some reason.

  3. I really enjoyed your writing. I think that in the mundane activities of life-washing dishes, folding clothes, driving 9 hours north on 95-our inner minds/imaginations take over and the creative forces are unleashed. I often wish/wished that there could be a computer chip in my brain that would capture all these wonderful stories and as I pressed my finger to the “print” button on a computer, the words would flow onto the screen-ready for me to enjoy. I have always enjoyed reading; as a quiet shy child, reading gave me the opportunity to explore other people, places, history and lives.

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