Or shall I call you “MC”? Too impersonal, I agree. Ok, I’ll call you Harmon. I know, you hate that, too. Danny it is then.
Danny, I hate to break this to you, but I have to sleep. I have to eat. I have children, and a husband, and a life outside of writing. I love giving you every ounce of attention you deserve, and I find you absolutely fascinating. I ache for your losses. I celebrate your triumphs. I feel your irritations, loves and laughs as if they were my own. I’m exasperated by many of your choices and by the words that fall out of your mouth, yet I am thoroughly entertained while I put them on the page.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. You are one of two amazing, beautiful main characters whose story I’m blessed to be telling. I am honored to be your chosen author. When a song comes on the radio that I’ve heard for the ten-thousandth time, that would typically go unnoticed, I hear you when you tell me that it is speaking directly of your current feelings. My heart tugs right along with yours, and I understand exactly what you want to say and why. And when you sit on my bedside late at night, full of frustration, with eyes rimmed red from lack of sleep, I get why you want to keep me up, too. I’m the only one who can pull you through this latest trial. You’re in a holding pattern until I’m back in front of a keyboard, or have a pen and paper in hand.
But dearest Danny, just because I’m sitting in front of a computer doesn’t mean it’s time to work on your story. I may be doing my day job — I kind of have to, if I want to continue eating. If I don’t eat, your story never gets told. I may just be goofing off. I know you think that’s not allowed — at least not until your story is completely written — But it’s going to happen from time to time, so please be gentle with me. Your story is emotionally charged, and in telling it, I feel everything you feel. Sometimes I need to step away, even though I love every word you whisper in my ear.
Fear not, my friend, for I shall finish your tale. I would not deny you your existence. But every once in a while, let’s just have a cup of coffee and talk about the weather, shall we? I know you’re in a tight spot right now, but it will work out. I promise. Your intensity and devotion are admirable. But let’s just chill out a little, have some breakfast, and I promise I will get to you today. Is that ok?
Love always, Your Faithful Writer
I love the quote by Dinaw Mengestu up there, but I think it’s slightly errant. I know everyone’s writing process differs, but for me, spending time with my characters isn’t a choice. It’s just something that happens organically. They come to me, and they whisper their tales. They usher me to the computer and they place my fingers upon the keyboard. They urge me to write what they have to say.
It also works the other way around. Sometimes they are off playing, and not paying attention. If I always wait on them, I’ll go weeks without writing. So I sit at the computer, or I take up a pen and paper, and I call them out. They are typically very willing to continue their story. Their urgency depends greatly upon the current mood of the chapter, but no matter what is happening, they are right there, giving me all sorts of minute details about themselves, their lives, and their very strong opinions about what happens next.
Regardless of whether they are all over me, like Danny has been for the last couple weeks, or if they are only responsive when I ask, I am not creating their story. They are telling it, and I am simply the antenna they use for transmission. I know what they find fascinating, because they tell me. When I stroll around the block, I don’t have to ask them to come along. They’re already there. Seeing the mundane through their eyes isn’t really my choice; it’s kind of like going for a walk with a child. I’m told everything they think, feel and experience, whether I really want to hear it or not.
I love my invisible friends. They make my life extraordinarily interesting. I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Sometimes their timing is a little inconvenient. But really, it’s ok. They want to be heard, and I’m here to tell their stories.