We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been hashing out a scene. ONE scene…and it’s very near driven me to the point of madness. It’s a scene I’ve seen at least a hundred times in my dreams–each time with varying degrees of clothing, (yeah, it goes there.)

Now, while dreaming about it is all fun and games, actually pouring it out onto the paper is proving to be quite painful. And I know why. For my character–it’s a goodbye. And goodbyes are never fun. They rip the soul out and stomp it into the ground, leaving a pitiful heap of something once recognizable behind.

It’s more than that, however. Because if it were that simple, this particular part of the story would have been done a long while ago–probably right after that first hot and steamy dream. It’s an overwhelming desire to not let go. My brain says one thing, my heart quite another.

So what do you do in a situation such as this? You remember that writing is an exploration of self. Actually, most of the times I’m shocked by where the journey takes me. Once you think that way, there is really only one option–and that’s to finish the scene and ultimately to let go…

 

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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart…

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.

 

 

 

 

Should I Smile Because You’re My Friend…Or Cry Because Thats All We’ll Ever Be?

Writing about love is hard… Throw in a complicated story and it can be a downright pain in the ass. Perhaps it’s one of those emotions that you really hate to indulge in because it frustrates the hell out of you and tends to jerk you around the most? I mean, when your character gets angry, you’ve got an outlet. Hit things in the face–hard… Anger all better. When you’re sad–well, a cuddly kitten will always do the trick. Confused–Hell, there’s Google for everything now-a-days.

But love? Yes, love. What do you do when you throw your character into the depths of a true love induced passionate embrace and then rethink it and say, You know what, Bud… That ain’t gonna happen.  That’s where I usually split off from the major story line and write in fantasy world for a while.

As far as I’m concerned, all that fantasizing is considered back story and it’s useful for thinking about where a character might go…but it’s highly impractical for much else. (Unless you enjoy torturing yourself both in real life relationships AND in written relationships. I’m guessing if you’ve read this far–you’re a writer, so that’s highly likely.)

It’s one thing to fantasize–a whole other to get it semi-close to what the reality of your story calls for. So what happens to the fantasy world of love and romance when you’re knee-deep in the practicalities and formalities of relationship building? I don’t know–If you have an answer, kindly leave it in the comments. I’ll be forever grateful.

Unwell

 

Writing through the draining bits of real life takes a bit of work and I’ve found it flavors anything put down on paper–which isn’t always a good thing.

Sometimes real life just plain sucks…but you don’t know it so you’re content to wade in the mire, happy that at least you’re not neck deep like the other fools around you.  That is, until you look around and realize that you’re not only up to your neck, but you’re about to go under.

That story never ends, “Happily Ever After.”

However, just like in writing–you have to be willing to go there and experience, validate, and own every single emotion, frustration, and struggle, while pulling yourself up out of whatever it is you’ve gotten bogged down in.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is totally optional. While I write my way through the pain of my reality, I use my words to stave the suffering, and the entire process makes for enticing stories. Here is a work in progress that emerged from my head last summer. I’ve been holding onto it until I can get back into the same head space to get back into it.

Enjoy!

The Butterfly.

A spring breeze gently wafts across the room, drawing me toward the large bay windows for the last time. This bare room was once both my studio and my most cherished part of the small farmhouse. Hearty timber shelves, painstakingly carved and fastened to the walls by my great grandfather, stretch from ceiling to floor and wrap around the entire room. Over the years, these antique boards housed countless cameras, art supplies, fabric swatches, and mountains of half-completed manuscripts.

Now the shelves expose their vast emptiness in front of a lone rocking chair, which sits vacant in the middle of the room. I desperately want to be alone for one more goodbye before the movers come to haul us both away.

I sink into my great grandmother’s rocker, embracing the smooth aged wood under my worn out fingers. A few loose strands of my thinning gray hair tickle my nose while I rock slowly back and forth. I survey the room, poring over the vast emptiness and settle on the open window, taking in the glorious site of the blushing pink gladiola bushes outside. As I watch, an old visitor flutters onto a flower.

I love when I see you flutter outside these windows.” I whisper to myself.

We know. We have flittered by your windows watching your family for a long time.”

I gape at the unusually large butterfly. Certainly, it did not just speak to me.

Do you have a family?” I ask louder this time, curious to see if the insect will answer.

Yes. My family is quite large actually,” The wings of the yellow and black butterfly gracefully float it to another flower closer to the open windows. “We are an ancient creature, born of a great desire and longing.”

My wrinkled hands fly up, covering my mouth. If I scream, someone is sure to enter the room and the beautiful creature may fly away. Slowing my breathing, mindful that hyperventilation is a real possibility, my gaze shifts to the intricate pattern on the wings of the great butterfly. If I am going crazy, it is a fine day to play along.

How is it you are so colorful?”

That is an interesting story.  Would you like to hear it?”

“Yes,” I say, leaning forward in the rocker. “Please tell it to me.”

Very well,” the butterfly says, stretching its wings wide to warm them in the sun. “A very long time ago a dragon captured a beautiful young princess. He was passionately in love with her and desperately tried to give her everything she could ever desire. The thing she wanted most was to be free. The dragon couldn’t bear that desire so he enchanted his castle to give the princess the illusion of being free while remaining his prisoner.

“One day, while the young princess was wandering through one of the dragon’s massive gardens, she began to weep. Her tears fell on the flowers at her feet and those very flowers transformed into the first butterflies.  Her hope was renewed and from that day forward the butterflies filled her with the courage to persist.

“So you see—the first of our kind were born from a profound yearning to be free.  The butterfly has a long memory. As we pass from generation to generation, our colors remind us to never give up our aspirations and they serve to fill others with the courage to carry on.”

That was a lovely story,” I say, pressing my face closer to the window. “Is that why you and your family flutter around this house?”

Yes. Naturally we are drawn to people who have lost their way. Your house calls to us.”

“I have lost more than my way butterfly,” I say, glancing around at the barren room.

Will you have to leave soon?” the inquisitive butterfly asks. My family can only stay for a short while; as you move on, we shall too.”

I need you,” I whisper.

We know. Do not be afraid. We have come to encourage you and to help you remember what it is that you want to accomplish.”

Do you know what it is that I want?”

Humans are similar to butterflies. We begin our life cycles as caterpillars. Changing as we grow, we eventually meet our crossroads where we must begin the next journey of our lives. It is for humans.” The butterfly spun in a neat circle atop the pale pink bloom. “You are now at your crossroad. You must decide the path you will take and that decision will take you to the next journey in your life.”

You give me hope,” I say, straightening up in my seat.

If we have managed to give you hope than we have succeeded…and so shall you.”