There’s a magical thing that happens when I write. My brain gets into that flow state and I wander along, my thoughts outracing my consciousness. My characters develop their own interests, go off on unplanned adventures, mutter to themselves far too much. They wax rhapsodic about sunsets and hair colour and the flush on their cheeks. They stride and growl, snort and writhe.
In short, they take over and become boorish. They start talking over each other, minor characters drink too much and push the major ones around. But somewhere underneath this rambunctious behaviour, they talk about truth.
Yesterday I met with my writing mentor and discussed my current work in progress, a young adult book that I thought my characters had made up as they played, loosely based on some terrible events in my life. As we talked about how to make the story better, my mentor gradually narrated the story of my life to me.
Totally freaked both of us out. We don’t know each other well at all. We’ve met three times, and it’s always been in an “honourable teacher/humble student” arrangement, at least on my side. And there she was, supposing this, supposing that, based on the story I had made up (which was quite different), telling my life.
And I realized the story was really about something I hadn’t dealt with, about a different event, and my powerlessness in that and my regret that I hadn’t been able to solve the issue, or protect the people involved.
Not the event I thought it was about at all.
So now I’m excited about rewriting, for many reasons. First, there’s a truth there that I think might help others, or at least make a meaningful story. Second, I’m down to the nugget now, have stripped away all the blather my characters were using to conceal their motives from me. It’s going to look better.
All because of a conversation with a surprisingly kindred spirit and excellent mentor. And several strange synchronicities that out both of us in the same place mentally at the same
Oh, Roberta Flack….