Saturday, December 1, 2012

When Characters Attack

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42000 words into nanowrimo, three days away from the November 30th deadline, I decided I could not go on. I was sick of words, sick of staring at the computer screen for hours and not being able to see anything clearly for at least a half hour after finally walking away from my laptop. I had had enough.

But, dammit.

Shelly, one of my characters, forced me back to the keyboard. She insists on revealing her darkest secret to Michael, the protagonist. In turn, Michael also shares his ugly secret.

But I have work to do, I tell them. Papers to grade. Sleep of which to partake. I’m tired. I just want to clean my house, sweep the cat hair out of the corners. Do a load of laundry. Cook a meal. Be a person. Your problems can wait, characters

No, they can’t, Shelly and Michael bellow. We are on the edge of something crucial, you moronic, self centered writer. We might slip off, become covered in mud. Or worse. Crack under the tension and do something stupid like break off our relationship. So get your giant ass in a seat and help us tell our stories. Yeah, you’re a crappy hack, but you’re all we have right now.

Ugh! I hate you people. I mutter some expletives under my breath.

Feeling’s mutual. Now get over to Starbucks, order your latte, and open that laptop. Plug in your headphones so you won’t get distracted. We’ve met you and your ADD, “Oh look at the pretty sunshine, is that a cardinal?” ways. We like instrumental music, by the way. The soundtrack from Slum Dog Millionaire works. So does the one from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sort on an Indian fusion vibe that rocks. No words. You need to concentrate on ours. Focus.

So for the next two days, every spare moment, these two characters hold me captive. They invade my dreams when I try to ignore them, wake me in the middle of the night like shrieking children. By 7 pm on November 30th, a Friday, after I had worked with sixth graders all day, I lookeat my word count. I am about a thousand words short. Shit. I can't see. My eyes burn and I just want to rest.

Yeah, so do we, but you have to move on. It’s a nice day for a picnic lunch of bread, peanut butter and wine. We have to have that long conversation Shelly has been promising Michael these past few weeks.

You owe me I say.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

So I hunt and peck more of their story. 50,835 words of it. But it’s not even close to being done, I whine.

They laugh. Yeah, ironic, huh? Hey, you chose to be a writer. 


How did YOU survive the nano experience?

Happy REwriting.

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