For months I have been working on the ending to my first novel. As a writer of YA urban fantasy, I have had the pleasure and pain of creating new characters, hopefully ones that are relatable but not cliché, intriguing but not too weird. There are many reasons writers need to take breaks from writing, and I have discovered a few that are crucial, which I have turned into silly characters:
1. Near-Hermit: I saw Near-Hermit in the mirror this morning, and well, I felt sorry for my husband. Yikes! Near-Hermit is so sunlight deprived that she resembles one of those transparent spiders you might find under the basement stairs. Near-Hermit is so “outside world” deprived that she thinks rotating yoga pants and gray sweatshirts is the same as getting dressed. Near-Hermit is in need of more than the usual quick shower–she needs a waxing from forehead to toes. Near-Hermit has even let her black toenail polish get so ragged and chipped that her feet look like they belong in a crime scene with a tag on the toe. Near-Hermit is not a complete and total hermit because she does have contact with family (they occasionally like to eat), and she still runs errands that require limited interaction with people–groceries, doctor appointments, pharmacy pick-up–but there are days when she ignores phone calls, emails and texts. She postpones time with friends and puts off responding to the ignored phone calls, emails and texts. She allows herself 5 minutes on social media and then it’s back to writing, reading, editing and revising. Near-Hermit’s world is way too small and she has started to forget how to speak face-to-face with other adults. (If she ever does, she better bring breath mints.)
2. Dementianna: This hybrid shapeshifter lives on fear, doubt and occasional paranoia. She is afraid to let anyone read what she’s written, because she doubts it’s any good–but if it is the innocent reader might steal her ideas. If she lets down her guard to allow a close friend or spouse to read her work, any comments–even a “hmm”–sends her into a tailspin. The poor reader suffers a barrage of questions, like a captured spy in an undisclosed location with a single lightbulb and a two-way mirror. Dementianna has a specific type of amnesia in which she has forgotten that the entire goal of writing was so other people–hopefully thousands of other people–will read it. Dementianna’s children refuse to visit any bookstore with her, because she compares herself to other writers and concludes either 1. she will never get published because she’s not good enough or 2. she will never get published because she isn’t writing the drivel on the shelves. She also has a paralysis that affects her ability to write an agent query letter and synopsis. She wears a chain around her neck with a USB drive that contains every typed word. In order to transform herself into a successful, published novelist she might let you read her work–if you can see around her head, because she’s going to be wearing the necklace while it’s plugged into your laptop.
3. Magnetica: Magnetica has many aliases–painter, TV viewer, theatre goer, chef, dreamer, social media surfer, housekeeper to name a few. Magnetica must write for a good solid hour or two, then take a break. Go to a movie, watch TV, read a book, bake something, talk to a friend, do anything BUT write. Magnetica must do other things in order to make deposits in the Bank of Inspiration. She is fully engaged with the Laws of Attraction, Deliberate Creation, and Expectation. Magnetica often just doodles silly cartoons that have nothing to do with anything. Magnetica needs to laugh and cry and release tension. Magnetica loves to have spontaneous dance-offs with her kids in the living room. She takes quiet nature hikes or picnics in a family cemetery. Magnetica definitely makes time for intimacy with her husband. Magnetica gets enough to eat, drinks enough water, and gets enough sleep, so that she is overflowing with creative juices when it is time to write again. Magnetica is the best spokesperson to show up when it’s time to pitch to an agent, because she wears professional clothes, a smile, and most of all, confidence.
I wish I could say that I am only Magnetica, but I am a combination of all three of these fun characters. (Just ask my supportive family and patient, neglected friends!)
Thankfully, Magnetica decided to go to a writer’s conference this past weekend. She made Near-Hermit take off the yoga pants and dress like a woman on a mission. She locked up Dementianna in a closet at home so she couldn’t sabotage the mission. Magnetica listened carefully, took thorough notes, networked with other writers, enjoyed the inspiration of another author’s creative process, and PITCHED TO AN AGENT.
Thank the green goddess it was Magnetica who showed up–Dementianna tried to get out but she was thwarted–because the agent just might be The One. I’d tell you more about Magnetica’s conversation with The One, but Dementianna doesn’t want to jinx it! 🙂
Stay tuned to see if Magnetica can win the fight against Near-Hermit and Dementianna in the epic battle for The Big Dream!
Related article: 5 reasons to go to a writer’s conference