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.

 

 

 

 

Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another.

Writers are, by all accounts of the word–SOLITARY. They enjoy being off on their own, locked into a room with their words sprawled out in front of them like little marching soldiers. I’m pretty much the same way. Being alone to explore and listen to the crazy muttering rumbling in my own head is a daily necessity.

While I wrestle with the expanse of blank paper to fill in, I have to admit my weakness… I consider the prewriting stage the most sensual. There, I said it. Something about raw emotions spilling out onto the page, unchecked and dripping with insane ideas is absolutely yummy.

But sometimes, being alone with your words gets…well, lonely.

And that, dear reader, is where this story is headed. Not that long ago, life took an unexpected turn for me. For those of you who don’t know me, (and that’s pretty much all of you save one or maybe two…) I don’t buy into the notion of randomness. In my world, there is a reason for everything. It might not make sense at the time, but it doesn’t always have to.

I had a choice. Stay the course and bury myself further under that pile of words, or explore new avenues of writing.

For me, it was a no brainier. And I can see a lot of head scratching so I’ll clue you in and tell you my new direction takes the form of collaborative writing. Yes, I dug my hooks in–because I’ve been told I’m “totally evil in a good way…”and I’ve found that when you open yourself up to the right kind of energy, real magic can happen. It’s a rare thing in my opinion, but writers who are of the same mind can take something ordinary and turn it into something that takes on a life of its own.

Like a simple Halloween dance. Building the Last Dance For Me.

Sometimes the person you really need is the one you didn’t think you wanted…

If you stick around here, you’ll pick up pretty fast that I write a character named Annie in an online role play. What you might not know is how completely that single character has changed my world.

She started as a writing experiment. Seems innocuous, right? A writer, looking to get in more practice at character development, churns out little more than a name and a skimpy background and away she goes. But then, as is typical in my particular life, something quite amazing happened…and his name was Kerry.

Before Kerry, I lived quite comfortably in the land of TAME Young Adult and Children’s genre. After Kerry…well, let’s just say TAME isn’t part of my vocabulary anymore.

Fast forward to July 22, 2011. In roleplay time, it was Monday evening. Annie found herself comforting Kerry in the hospital after a very traumatic day for both of them. Midway through our thread, Annie found herself in uncharted territories and as much as she (and when I say she, think I) REALLY wanted to go there, and did, I had to reign her in because the reality of the role play is that she’s only twelve, (for now).

In the end, what my grown-up self wanted to write lost to what twelve year old Annie could pull off. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a little fun letting my imagination run wild–call it a practice run for when Annie gets to be sixteen.

As far as character building, I think Annie’s been a home run. She’s become for me a way to explore not only development, but also genre, and emotion. Through her I can wade through the fun stuff like affection, sadness, passion, and of course–love.

I know you’re wondering I wrote that needed such a huge edit. I won’t leave you hanging. If you keep reading, you’ll find what I originally wrote…and what actually made it into the role play. I think you’ll notice the subtle differences.

Enjoy!

Annie’s Fantasy:

As she listened to his melodious voice in the darkness, the rhythm of his accent held her captive. She struggled to recall a time she’d ever been more contented than right at that moment. Annie rolled onto her side. The thin hospital pajamas slipped over her slender shoulder, revealing the subtle blush spreading down from her face.

Kerry’s warmth reached out to her and ensnared her very being. Her fingers traced a path from his jaw to his neck, methodically slipping lower until they reached the top button of his pajama shirt. She swiftly released it and smiled, allowing her fingers to roam lower still.

When his shirt was unbuttoned, Annie felt her way over his bare chest; his breathing was slow and relaxed as she pushed the fabric back, exposing the skin beneath.

“I’d go to the ends of the earth with you, Kerry,” she whispered into his ear. “But, this is the only place I want to be right now.”

She pressed herself closer to his body and brushed her lips over his neck, grazing her tongue over his skin….

Annie’s Reality:

Annie could never remember a time she’d ever been more comfortable than right at that moment. His warmth reached out to her and ensnared her very being. Listening to his melodious voice in the darkness, the rhythm of his accent held her captive.

“I’d go to the ends of the earth with you, Kerry,” she whispered into his ear. “But, this is the only place I want to be right now.”