Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Miss Prudence Pettigrew is Tied to the Railroad Tracks! Doesn’t Anyone Care?


How many writers out there can relate to the following scenario:

You’re sitting at a family barbecue, and everybody is chatting companionably. People ask you how old your children are and how they are doing in school. You ask questions about Uncle Henry, and they ask about your in-laws. Throughout the entire conversation, in the back of your mind, you wonder why they haven’t asked about the latest troubles of your main character – and then you have to remind yourself, once again, that your main character is NOT a real person.

Anybody else out there have to chant that mantra in your head? “They’re not real; they’re not real; stop talking about them; they’re not real …”

I went to a bridal shower this spring, and I had to get up and leave a short story manuscript in the middle of the climactic scene. Poor Simone was face down in the water, struggling against a creature much stronger than she was … and then I had to walk away to attend a luncheon where I would sip iced tea and play Bridal Gift Bingo. Don’t get me wrong – I was happy to go – thrilled for the cousin who was getting married – and I enjoyed talking to relatives and friends. But in the back of my mind, while the bride-to-be was opening boxes of sheets and towels, I kept looking around the room and wondering why nobody else seemed worried about Simone. And the entire time I was there … I was composing her escape in my head.

I am lucky to have a husband, a sister, and a mother who will patiently talk with me about my characters – thank heavens for all three of them! Dread Daughter #1 will also talk with me about my characters, but since she’s 13 years old, conversations are monosyllabic and not very satisfying. The dog listens with adoring eyes, but doesn’t say a lot. (Much like the daughter – except for the adoring eyes part.)

Do any other writers out there find that they have to force themselves to socialize with real, living people when their characters are clamoring for attention?

9 comments:

  1. Dianne I love this post!!!! Oh my gosh I chuckled throught the whole thing thinking "Oh my gosh I've done that" or "Holy crap I have to be careful too!"

    I forget that they aren't real because to me they are. Even talking to my husband is tough because he can't relate to them like I can. I love that I found the blogging world when I did, it's where I can rant and rave, leave a post where my character and I are talking to one another and everyone can relate rather than thinking "Oh lord there is crazy again" so I understsand why you would be worried about Simone.

    Speaking of which, once you told me about her I was wondering what was happening to her throughout the entire post!!!

    PS - loving your book so far! I just started but already couldn't put it down ;)

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  2. Yes. When my main characters had 'the break up fight' that ended it all, I had people over that afternoon for a bbq when all I really wanted to do was eat ice cream and watch titanic as though it was me who just had the major break up.

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  3. Um, yeah. I feel like this pretty much all the time!

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  4. I am such a nutcracker when it comes to the Chatty Cathys in my head. I can't help it. To me they are real. They have to be.

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  5. Ha! Yes, this is so hard!!! I have to force my self to laundry and cooking and everything some days. Other days I have to force myself to do things to my characters!

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  6. I try not to inflict discussions about characters and possible plot lines on my husband too much. The poor man is plumb tuckered out from listening to me all these years. But occasionally I'll still say, "OK, I know I am boring you but I'm sorry. You have to let me bounce this off you." That poor man has had so many things bounced off him, he must feel like a backboard.

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  7. Yes! It happens less frequently now that the book is complete but man alive, they were so there. So real.

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  8. Yes! I do feel the need to burst when I talk about my characters. I usually confide in my daughter and tell her all about what my characters are up to. She's 22 months and seems to understand me completely. LOL

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  9. Such a true post. I remember being in church and trying to listen to the sermon and not being able to. Finally, I gave in and started writing on the bulletin, on the back of a Communion card, wherever I could find a blank space. When the sermon was over, I had no idea what the pastor talked about. Then I felt way guilty. Keep up the terrific work on your blog, Dianne. I am really enjoying it. Blessings, Buffy

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