Over the past fourteen months, I have worked extremely hard to achieve the rite of passage from wearing the badge of a ‘would-be novelist’ to being able to proudly give myself the moniker of a self-published author of four novels. The road I followed on this journey was certainly not the one I sought, and it was undoubtedly fraught with peril, but it is a road I would travel one hundred times over to regain the confidence in myself I never had, but I now exude.
On the days that I write, I go to a different place. I am not me sitting in my tiny living room, enjoying the sparkling white lights that should have been put away after Christmas. I am a conduit for ideas that come from places I have never seen, and voices I have never heard. I knew writing a book would be an interesting journey, but I never knew how many hours could pass while I was basically in a fugue state, writing words that came from the far reaches of my mind, and from people I have never met, but merely created in the depths of my imagination.
On the days that I write, these characters slowly become a part of my family. Their back stories may not be fully written into my books, but I know these people. I know what makes them tick, and I listen the words they want to say as I let their stories flow from my brain, through my keyboard, and onto the page. When people read my books, they get to experience the same introduction to these characters I had as I wrote about them. They were not outlines on a page before I began the story. They introduced themselves to me the same way they introduce themselves to anyone who takes the time to read my work.
On most of the days that I write, I am blessed to continually hear those voices. I have had days when the voices are silent, and I try to fill the words on the page anticipating where they would want to go, but inevitably, I end up deleting many paragraphs when the characters finally voice their opinion and tell me what I had written was wrong. We come to an agreement, I delete the words I had written in their absence, and the story continues according to their vision.
My stories are their stories. I have learned to listen and not plan. I have heeded their wisdom, and I am bound to tell the tales they want to tell. I am restrained by an unwritten agreement to not put words in their mouths or share stories that are not true to their characters. On the days that I write, I am happy those characters keep coming back so we can continue our journey together.