My family worries about me when I talk about fictional people as if they really exist. And I won't even go into looks they give me when I say my characters talk to me. I think they've got the funny farm on speed dial in case I start running through the house wearing only a tiara shouting, "The pumpkins, the pumpkins! The pumpkins are after me!" But I assure them, I'm no crazier than any other author--yes, I know, that gives me a lot of wiggle room--and the things that go on in my head are vital to the production of quality work. I say don't hate on me because the voices like me best...kidding, kidding. But take last night for example.
I went to bed feeling pretty good about myself as a writer. I finally finished a 35K+ novella I've been working on for months. Though I know a first draft is a long way from a finished product, I allowed myself to bask in the glow of the accomplishment. All the Good Men is a tale of Dahlia Foster who's sure the hackneyed platitude is true: After a certain age, all the good men are married or gay. Her best friend and her sisters dare her to put her fate where her mouth is. The terms of the challenge? During the month of August, she has to end her five-year-long ‘man fast’ and go on dates with men of their choosing. Oh, and she has to go out with anyone else who asks.
As the date disasters pile up, the vindication almost makes the torturous evenings bearable for Dahlia. But a handsome new neighbor, Jackson Carmichael, throws his hat in the ring and he may just be the man to prove her wrong…that is if she doesn’t scare him away first.
I drifted off to sleep with that warm, fuzzy feeling only a completed first draft can give. And then the rudest thing happened!
My characters tore me from slumber to start telling me all sorts of things about themselves that I didn't know. What? How could this be? The manuscript took me months to write in the first place because these stubborn characters wouldn't open up. And they pick 2am to get chatty? Begrudgingly, I staggered out to the living room and jotted a few notes in my journal, then stumbled back to bed. But there Dahli and Jackson were again making suggestions for backstory I could add, popping up in my dreams and opening up to me about the laughter and tears that would round them out with some depth.
About 5 this morning, I gave up on sleeping and pulled out the laptop. Now I have at least another 10k - 15K to write, which on one hand is good. The more layers of personality and meaning I put into the book, the more enjoyable a read it'll be. On the other hand, I want to beat Dahlia and Jackson. I'm serious, WTH? They could've told me all these things months ago when I was begging them to...or at least have waited until a decent time to propel me out of bed. Characters can be so inconsiderate sometimes. I suppose I shouldn't complain. They could've kept mute and left me with a fluffy romantic comedy instead of one in which real people deal with real roadblocks, desires, and insecurities.
So this morning I took All the Good Men out of my finished draft folder and put it back in the WIP file. Speaking of which, I best get back to work while my muse is all hopped up on caffeine. I always say, a muse in the hand is worth two in the bush. Okay, I never say that. Not even sure what the original version of that adage means. Anyhoo, back to the grindstone. Quick Brighid, before the pumpkins come after us again! Now, where did I put that tiara....?