You always read about authors saying they hear their character’s voices in their heads and to be fair, I am no exception. When I was writing Ember and Ashes, all I could hear were Scarlett’s next steps, but as I fight with life’s little road bumps, tribulations and minutiae to complete the trilogy to a deadline, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the silence!
Where have my characters gone?? I think they are taking a well-earned vacation. They made the first two easy for me and now I think they are cashing in their holiday and packing off to leave me to fight it out alone. While terrifying, I suppose there is something of the exciting about this challenge. I know these people, I created them, so I can certainly develop an end befitting of their personalities and strengths…..right?!…….*crosses fingers*
These are the things I think people fail to warn you about when you say you want to write, or that you already do. You don’t hear much about J.K Rowling head-desking because Harry, Ron and Hermione went mute half way through the Deathly Hallows, do you?
Which leads me to believe being an author is a bit like being in a secret club; it is very lovely, but there is so much you don’t know until you find yourself in the middle of it, a bit like becoming a parent. Any parent will tell you that they felt a little blindsided once or twice (read thousands of times) by the sheer volume of things people ‘casually failed to mention’ about parenthood. These aren’t terrible things, just things you wish you had been armed with prior to the child’s (or in this case book’s/idea’s arrival). Things like…you can kiss the lock on the bathroom door goodbye when you have a kid, that thing may as well be removed as it isn’t seeing any action for several years. The book equivalent can be any number of things….the deafening silence as mentioned above, or the extremity of the anxiety on release day, review day and so on.
The thing is, much like having a baby….every little tiny stress and panic, the blood, sweat and tears are all very worth it. No matter what the lows, the highs win every time. I am not saying my books are as rewarding as my son, but they are pretty up there and are kind of my babies too; I love them even when they are making me want to tear my hair out.
I think this is what makes books and writing so special, they invoke reactions often reserved for only our nearest and dearest. I was sent a quote this week by one of my friends and it fits this month’s column well. Like children, books and our words are a legacy we can leave behind (wow, bit of a deep one today, sorry!) and it is nice to think of an imprint on the world in years to come.
On that note, I will leave you with this stunning summation of the importance of books from Carl Sagan!
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
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