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Monday, October 27, 2008

Character Study

I got one whole solid hour today to write!! Yay!! That might not sound like a lot to most of you, but the chances of both of my children being asleep for an overlapping hour is like finding hidden money or getting a Christmas gift you didn't think you were actually going to get.

I actually sat down with the intention of actual writing. Like starting a chapter, laying out a full scene, etc. But once I started going through all my notes, I kept adding in little notations and blurbs next to my character descriptions. I got so into thinking about what this character would do in this circumstance, and why this one acts this way, that I decided to run with it and wait to start the actual story itself.

(Is part of that procrastination? Of course; I am who I am. And it's still pretty scary to me, this whole "writing a novel" thing. But I'm more excited than scared, so no worries that procrastination will be taking over permanently.)

Once I quit pretending like I was just jotting down little notes, I really got into my characters. I just have such a clear view on them, I know them already! I know what kind of music they like (or don't), and their pasts, and what they look like. I know that one of them would eat pancakes every day if she didn't have to cook them, and that one runs 3 miles everyday.

Of course, it's impossible for me to get all this information that my characters are telling me and not get at least some of the story behind it. So then I start making those little side blurbs again, and wondering if I should start Chapter 1 with this or that...

Alas, I was prevented from getting into anything really juicy at that moment, because baby #1 woke up, and baby #2 wasn't far behind.

I have to admit, I'm surprised every time I start up again, every time I look at my characters and read what I've got, that I'm still interested. That there is still so much in my head to get out. I think that's what is giving me faith this time to keep writing. Because I can keep writing; in fact, I can't keep up with how much there is in there! It's like a dam was knocked down, and the flood is still there, just waiting for me to stick my toe in. And as soon as I stick my toe in, there's more floodwater. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's how I see it.

In an aside, I read a poem today that I love, and I wanted to share it with yous guys. =) I'm sure you were forced to read it in school, but some things get better over time, with new perspectives.


by Robert Frost.

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

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