Thursday, August 21, 2008

Writers Are Weird

My daughter and son-in-law are very precious to me – almost as precious as the two wonderful grandchildren they’ve given me – but sometimes they give me a hard time. It’s not that they don’t care about me or my work. They do. It’s just that sometimes I think we live on different planets. If not planets, at least different planes of this planet.

For instance, the other day my daughter dropped by. (Oh she’s thoughtful, she called first.) I was in the middle of finishing up a lovely wedding scene in my latest book. This couple, who everyone thought would never make it, were finally having the wedding of their dreams. I cried through the whole ceremony

About the time I had them heading out on an extensive honeymoon, the door bell rang. I answered it, blew my nose and told daughter to come in.

"Are you crying?” She demanded.

I knew I might as well confess so I said, “Yes. June finally got married and…”

“Who’s June?”

“You know. The woman in my book who was shot and nobody thought she would make it….”

“But she’s not real, Mom. What’s wrong with you?”

Now you know if you’re a writer, you’d never tell another writer their characters were not real. Indeed! These people are real to me. I live with them for months. I give them life and they talk to me and I talk to them. I feel what they feel.

For example, in JILTED BY DEATH, when Willa met Trent and the shivers went down her spine, they went down mine too. When the hot plastic spewed on Ernie Wilkes in STETSON MOLD, I felt the pain. I felt alone and lost when Amy decided the best thing to do in DUO OF OPPISITES was to get lost in San Francisco. I was excited and thrilled when Gaylord Swanson and Nevis Poole presented Willa with a new car in ECHOES OF MERCY. When Nola Dean stumbled on a dead body in the darkness of her Myrtle Beach condo in MURDER IN SOUTH CAROLINA, I was as horrified as she was.

So how could anyone tell me my characters aren’t real?

Believe me, I’m not alone. Many writers out there do the same thing I do. We get into the heart and soul of these people we create and this is what makes them come alive on the page. If they don’t make the writer cry or laugh or feel, then they won’t make the reader cry or laugh or feel either.

And that’s what I strive for. I want my readers to feel for and with my characters. The sweetest words I’ve ever heard from a fan is, “I didn’t want the book to end. I want to know what happens to the people after you stopped the story.”

So call me weird. My family does and I don’t mind. Maybe I am a little weird. Maybe that is what it takes to be a writer. I don’t know. I only know that I love to make up stories and put them on paper. There is no other job where a grandmother like me could live part-time in a dream world, write those dreams down and if lucky get paid an amount which puts me below the poverty level.

Just so you won’t think I’m completely nuts, while I was thinking about writing this, I changed my cat litter, tossed a load of clothes in the washer and put a roast with pepperoncini in the crock pot. See, a writer can live in both worlds even if they are weird.

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