Getting nostalgic for my characters and their beginnings, I pulled out the very first draft, what Chuck Wendig would call the zero draft as it was written during NaNoWriMo way back in 2004 (holy shit!). Anyway, I found this little note that I wrote to my characters even back then:
Okay Tim, Nomi I have to tell you something and you’re not going to like it. I’m starting to come to the realization that you might have picked the wrong person to tell your story. I’m sorry, but I might not have the talent to pull it off as great as it should be. I will do my best, as always, but I must prepare you for the realization that my best might not be good enough.
So, from the beginning I worried about treating them right, doing justice to this amazing story I feel sometimes that they gave me responsibility to tell.
No pressure guys!
And true, I’m not as artsy-fartsy as I used to be and don’t give the power to the characters that I’ve created and blame/give credit to an arbitrary “muse” for my inspiration or writer’s block anymore (or as much as I had in the past). But still, these characters are special. It took me a long time to create them that way and an even longer time to work out their issues, foibles and bad behaviors, you know, the things that make them human.
In 2004 these characters lived so vibrantly and richly in my mind and for years after I called them up regularly to add to their story, to finish it and then to edit it. Now though, it’s been a very long time since they’ve been prevalent in my head space. I’m terrified that I won’t be able to bring them back to the forefront where they need to be.
Part of me wants to go and start tinkering now, while I wait for the editor to get my manuscript back to me, but another part thinks that would be a really bad idea. What if my editor’s suggestions don’t work with the changes I make independently or I wind up wanting to tell a completely different story? That would be BAD.
Or, and this could be even worse. What if while re-reading, I like them less, what if there are fundamental things wrong with them that I hadn’t seen those years when I loved them so very much that they were a part of my every thought? OH GOD! OH GOD!
Great, now I’ve talked myself into being terrified of even reading the story again. Believe me, that was not the purpose of this post. Not even close. Let’s move on.
So, what should I do?
Read it in random chunks. This will familiarize myself with the characters and their mannerisms and characteristics without stressing me about the plot and setting and all those other pesky bits that are a freak out for another post.
Rely on what I remember. I haven’t forgotten them of course, the goal is to bring them from my ever present subconscious to my immediate consciousness. So, if I take what is always there and actively think on them again, that would be a good step. Easy to do too, so that’s a plus.
Fanfic this shit. Hey, I’ve done it with other people’s characters that I love for fun and to tinker with aspects of my writing, so why not do it to my own? Take them and put them in new situations, tell bits of what happened before or after the actual story. Missing scenes? Sure, the book is full of them. Or, OR, since I’m really into crossovers right now, hmmm, maybe Naomi gets a certain letter from a certain school of Witchcraft and Wizardry? ♥
Freak out some more. This will, of course, be happening whether I want it to or not. Maybe though, I can keep it to a minimum? Let’s hope. In the meantime, what do you do to get back into a character’s head?
As I like to have my toes in as many social waters as possible, this post can also be found on DreamWidth. You can comment here or there...or not at all if you want to make me cry.