The book that my writing partner, Jared Anderson, and I have been working on has reached a critical point. His character has abducted my character, and things are getting uglier by the moment. This is where being a writer gets intense and interesting.
I am not my character Brenna, and thank the good Lord, Jared is not his character Sterling. His character is a serial killer, and a sadistic SOB if I do say so myself. Jared is nothing like that. Brenna is naive; she is trusting to a fault, and she wants to be accepted by others. Certainly I share some traits with her, but I would hope that my own common sense is stronger than what she has.
But as of now, Sterling has her held hostage, and it isn’t going well for her. He hits her, calls her names, has her chained up and vulnerable. These are hard scenes to write. I’ve never been kidnapped, so I’m certainly not writing from experience. But we’ve all had terrible experiences, and I’m having to muck around in the worst of mine in order to make Brenna’s situation more realistic. This is a very painful, draining experience, and it takes a toll on me. I’m reluctant sit down and write, I feel anxious and depressed, and I am easily distracted from writing once I do sit down. So I’ve adopted a new strategy: I’m living a parallel life.
The best way for me to get through this is to step into Brenna’s world for a set amount of time. I submerge into those dark moments for an hour, then I reemerge into my life to recover. I go back into the darkness for another hour then give myself an hour of recovery. I wrote a particularly painful scene today, and when I had finished it, I made the decision that I needed a little extra pampering as a reward. I took my youngest daughter and we treated ourselves to pedicures. The time I spend in Brenna’s life has to be balanced in my life with a little extra kindness. Granted, I can’t get pedicures and massages every day, so I have to find other ways to bring myself back to my own life after being part of Brenna’s. I soak in my jetted tub, I play computer games, I chat with Jared through instant message, I go for a walk with my dog, or I put in my ear buds and listen to my iPod.
Jared and I have talked a lot about “dancing with crazy” and right now it feels as if I’m in the middle of the crazy ball. Not every book requires the extra kindness to one’s self, but this one most assuredly does. This much dancing with crazy can result in a writer not wanting to go through the process of a book in the near future, if ever again at all. Taking care of the writer is taking care of me as a whole. The sense of depression is real, and it impacts all of me. The exhaustion and discomfort are real and they make it difficult for me to function. What happens in Brenna’s world has an impact on this world, and denying that will create bigger issues for me in the end. So I take care of myself with a little extra attention in this universe so I can be more effective in that parallel one.