Ah, new love! Is there anything like it?
I’m not talking about romantic love. I’m referring to my newest WIP.
I’m buried in bliss. Research books blooming with notes surround my work area. And much like when you’re newly in love, I want the world to go away and leave us alone for now.
Don’t get me wrong — we’re still getting to know one another. I’m only in the research phase, but I am so excited. I’ve missed this.
I told my writing mother a few days ago that I have finally, for sure, chosen a subject.
A few years ago when Barry and I were in Scotland, this character urged me to buy a book, to buy a blank journal, a particular journal. I tend to listen to nudges because you don’t know, right? Sometimes they come to nothing, as I thought this one might, but sometimes they surprise and delight you.
The journal was so stinking cute I knew I’d be happy to use it for any occasion, even if I didn’t end up writing about this person, so I figured win/win. But when I went to use it right after our trip, I couldn’t. I knew it was for my next book (I was working on novel two at the time and had NO CLUE what book three would be about) and I put it away. Until last week.
It started in earnest a couple of months ago, this unfamiliar voice buzzing in my head. Though I thought I knew this historical character so well, I didn’t recognize who it was at first. To be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant sensation. But when I realized who it was, I was delighted.
(I don’t intend to be coy one moment longer than I need to; as soon as I think it’s time I will be bombarding you with my research, I promise!)
This newest voice occupies a different part of my brain than I’m accustomed to using, which is currently like wearing too tight a hat. But I’ve been here before, and I believe if I give it the time and space it deserves, I will find the right groove. I will find the right notes.
I think my characters know I am willing to become incredibly uncomfortable in the service of art. I do not “art” safely. I will inhabit characters nothing like me and try not to judge their choices. You can’t write well someone you judge. You just can’t, not if you’re going to write rounded, sympathetic characters. You can disapprove of their choices. You can want to warn them to beware the consequences of their choices, but you can’t change what they need to do. And if you want good art, you shouldn’t try.
Am I still scared of this topic? Absolutely. People have fixed opinions about this person. Do I think I can do the novel justice? Well, I’m sure going to spend the next few years trying.
You’d think that would terrify me. Opposite.