You’d think that would be the simplest advice to follow, right? WRONG. Why? Because sometimes your heart turns into a fire-breathing dragon, hell-bent on destroying everything you create–that’s why. But I digress, because this time I went through a very different kind of torture to get my heart to breathe onto my paper.
First off, I have to admit that a few days ago–I turned into something of a word snob…bottling up my very being and stealing it away, leaving my writing empty and soulless.
Let me explain.
A lot of my creative writing revolves around a twelve-year-old Bulgarian girl named Annie. I write her for an online role play, based off the world of Harry Potter. She’s completely head over heels over a boy named Kerry and at the moment, excelling in her magical endeavors at school.
A month into school and she’s got the world at her feet–literally. An amazing boy, a magic wand she’s learning to use, and the security and seclusion of a magical boarding school to explore both…or so she thought.
There comes a point in any writing where you have to take a hard and fast look at where you’re headed. For Annie, that moment came in the form of a study space.
Annie followed their coven head down into the depths of their coven. When he motioned them inside, she looked around and squealed with delight.
“Can we really have this to study in, Professor?” The room was perfect in every way, private and quiet. It was bound to be a place for learning about more than just charms…
Hey, in her defense, she was thinking about taking up painting.
Okay. Maybe not. The important thing here is that, as the story progressed, she was called on that thought and it created a huge problem–both for Annie and myself. What do I mean? Well, it turned out to be the literal equivalent of:
Go To Jail! Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $100.
As a result, I couldn’t write, no matter how desperately I wanted to. As a matter of fact, I’d been ankle-deep in another section of Annie’s story that is coming at the end of the year–and I just could not continue.
I left the role play that night, not really knowing how I felt about Annie getting caught thinking impure thoughts by a Professor–but with the deep realization that it bothered me. A lot.
The next day, after I had time to process my own ideas about what happened, I knew exactly what was wrong (no, I’m not going there), and I had to figure out how to write Annie in another way based on the new developments in her life. I ended up taking her in an awkward and strange direction, and things like this popped out:
Annie waltzed in after Kerry and fell instantly in love with the furnishings provided for them in their little nook. “It’s perfect,” she said, collapsing into the other easy chair and dropping her bag on the floor next to it. “We’ll get a lot of studying done in here.”
She glanced at him, admiring his profile as he checked out the room, and shifted her gaze as his focus returned to her. “They did a great job.”
Annie struggled to concentrate on the nap of her tweed skirt, running her fingertips over the bumps and ridges. She sighed and retrieved her wand. “I’m ready if you are…”
Not that bad, you say? It is for Annie. Writing a character you know so well inside and out gets tricky as you wade into uncharted territory. For Annie, she turned into dry kindling. If Kerry had held an open flame, she would have caught fire in that room and instantly been turned to ash. That entire section of her role play got worse and worse, until it was downright painful to continue.
And it was noticed…by the one Annie cares about the most. Her Kerry.
Now–here is where writing on your own can’t compare to collaborative writing. When you go off into uncharted territory with your characters all by your lonesome, there isn’t anyone (usually) to call you on it and say, “Hang on, your character just ran off the rails here.”
But when you collaborate, and build characters in a format such as a role play, there is always someone there who can raise an eyebrow when your character does something unexpected–causing you to reassess and wonder what just happened.
When Kerry asked Annie in the role play what was wrong, I knew it was time to come clean.
Annie looked around the room before stretching out her own hand for his. She gazed deeply into his eyes and took a deep breath. He’s not blind…and he deserves to hear it, even if he thinks you’re silly.
“When we asked Professor Semplen about this room,” she lowered her eyes. “He said something to me, in Bulgarian, stressing that the room was just for study. It might not mean much coming from your Western background. But to me…” Annie pulled her hand back and wrapped her arms around herself.
“It was as if he were suggesting that we…” She felt her face erupt in a volcanic heat, which slid down the length of her chest. This is impossible to explain without making it sound completely awful. Annie decided it would be better to give the simplest meaning of her exchange with Holoc.
“That I should think about charming something…other than you.” Annie sank lower in her chair. “It was as though he were saying that I’ve been too affectionate and all of the professors have noticed. They must all think I’m— bezrazboren.” She realized that came out in Bulgarian. “Uhm, it means a girl who is crazy over boys or something similar to that.” She shook her head and stood up, pacing once more in the cozy room.
“They’re watching us, and they think I’m—that we’re,” she stopped, realizing she was probably not making any sense at all, and faced him.
“Do you have any idea at all what I’m talking about?”
Right here is where game play stopped and the work of dissecting characters and motives began. Who said what? What were the motivations behind what was implied? It was a very detailed and long conversation about the realities and thought patterns of a handful of different characters.
When the work of picking apart their back story was complete, not only did Annie realize she was pulling away and being completely irrational–I was able to see where the motivation for her to behave that way was coming from and just like that, I needed to write…and boy did Annie react to the good news.
Annie listened as Kerry spoke; every word washing over her like a soothing lullaby. Halfway though, it dawned on her that she had been completely and totally overreacting.
Kerry’s distress over her mini freak out rolled off him in waves—and that feeling was worse than believing her coven leader might have insinuated she was…easy.
Annie had a choice. She could decide to go back to her own life, where she was expected to look and behave a certain way and never deviate from that…or she could forge ahead and enjoy her new freedom and the world view only her Kerry would be able to give.
The choice was simple. There was only one thing she wanted; one thing she desired from the time she was seven. And he was standing right there in front of her, pleading for her to come back to him.
So she did. When he stopped talking, Annie wrapped herself into him, holding on as if he were her life raft. “You’re right,” she whispered into his ear, inhaling the scent of him—running her fingers greedily through his hair.
“Forgive me, Kerry.” She kissed his neck, tasting his skin as she moved up to his ear. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Her lips slid over his jaw. “Somehow I got the idea that all of our professors thought I might be…” She met his lips and savored the sweetness of his breath before pressing her mouth to his.
Annie kissed him for an eternity. She kissed him until all thoughts of their professors, their families, their school, faded away, and her world was filled with nothing but the two of them sharing their embrace; each desperate for the other in ways only the two of them would ever fully comprehend.
The only thing that mattered—is that he wanted her, and she would be there for him…always.
When she finally pulled away, she felt that familiar blush. Tingley warmth radiated throughout her entire body and she relished in it. Slipping her hand into his, Annie led him to their love seat.
“Kerry,” she breathed, leaning into him so she could nuzzle his neck as they spoke. She let her arm rest on his chest while her fingers danced around the hollow under his Adam’s apple. “You are my soul mate. I can’t promise you that I’ll always be perfect…or rational,” she gazed up into his eyes, desperate for his forgiveness. “But I love you. I’ve always loved you, even before I knew it was you I was in love with.”
She kissed him once more, delighting in the soft contour of his lips under hers. “Moya edna lyubov…”
That was Annie’s last post in that particular thread. I’d say, not only did I grow as a writer and learn things about myself and my character that I might not have, (had I not gone through the process with someone I trust)–but the breathings of my heart also managed to make it beautifully onto the page.