magical characters

A good friend called recently and told me that she woke up one morning with characters having a conversation in her head. (No, she's not hallucinating...she's imagining. Which is totally different. Kind of.)

She said that a story just up and started to unfold, right there, without her trying to conjure it up, and that these characters continue their own story every day all on their own. She simply writes down what they're doing and saying after she listens in on them.

Back when we had this conversation, my friend had written over 250 pages. In 3 weeks.


She had no dream or intention of writing a book. It just kinda happened to her, and now she's got the bug and she just can't stop thinking about her book and she can't stop writing.

Uh yeah, I'm totally jealous. I'm not gonna lie.

I do want to write a book. I've wanted to write a book for a really long time. Trouble is, whenever I have an idea, it's usually non-fiction and my passion for it quickly wanes. Or maybe my confidence fizzles out. Or maybe both.

In the last few months, I've been fantasizing about writing fiction for the first time in my life.

So. Since talking to my friend, when I wake up each morning, I open one eye and peek around the room, hoping my characters have arrived. They haven't shown up yet. I kind of want to call out for them, but because I haven't met them, I don't know their names. And also, Ryan would think that I've finally totally and completely lost my mind if I was yelling out random names and then he would send me to an institution and even though that sounds kind of nice and a little like a vacation in which I don't cook, I don't want to go.

Anyway, I can't think of anything (besides mothering and wifing, duh) that I'd rather do than to get lost in writing a book. Even if I really don't have any idea how to write a book. I figure I'll take my heart with me on the journey and just spill it out....once Carmen and Lindy show up.

Nope. Those aren't the right names for my characters either, I was just trying them out.

By the way, you don't have to tell me that an idea will come in time and be patient and all that. And you don't have to tell me that I'd be good at writing a book even though I have no "training" and would make an editor want to stick forks in his eyes. You don't have to say anything. Unless it's a killer plot idea. Like maybe magical characters visited you in the wee hours of morning, but you just have no time to write and so you want to pass your brilliant gift of a story on to me. You can totally do that.

Also. About my friend: I'm truly happy for her. What a gift! She is a friend I've had for years, I was her maid of honor on her wedding day, she totally gets me and I her, and I love her.
And guess what? Her main character's name is Miles and yes, he's named after my firstborn. (ahem. royalties.)

Maybe this name fact will be my one and only writing claim to fame after my friend's book hits the big-time. And you know what? That would be enough.

(Did you get that? That was me, shoving away my jealousy and being a gracious friend.)

(But only because she named her miraculous morning visitor character after my boy.)

(That was a joke. Kind of.)

(And yes, Ann. I'm also mad at you for your incredible talent and passion and sudden book-writing.)

(I'll stop with the stupid parentheses now.)

(See? I should NOT write a book.)

(And I call myself a wrogger, which means I'm saying I'm half writer-who do I think I am?)

28 clicked right here to comment:

Corinne said...

You and me both, Heather :)
I've got the bug. And I've got it bad...
I just joined a writing group, and I hope it helps me focus all these crazy ideas that just keep swirling above my head but I can't grasp them with my hands yet. They're there. Just like yours are for you, and will come to fruition one day. You'll do it, I know you will.

Varda said...

Hey Heather: I too am completely addicted to parenthesis since they help me earn my title of "Queen of the Run-on Sentence" (but if you ask nice, I'll share my crown with you).

Casey Freeland said...

If you write with passion, write about what turns you on, you'll have a book before you know it. Good luck. I'm getting ready to start another novel very shortly. It's an exciting time!


DeNae said...

I think you could do a fiction book based on your own life. I mean, come on, Heather - your life has AWESOME elements, all managed by an eloquent and optimistic narrator - you. Add some romance, a little mystery, and of course a vampire, and I'm telling you, we're talking NY Times Best Seller!

(And, parenthetically speaking, JK Rowling describes her experience w/Harry Potter the same way your friend does: He just arrived fully formed in her head. Unfortunately, some of us remember the man who early on in the HP marketing tsunami demonstrated that she had, in fact, stolen the whole kit n' caboodle from him. He went away as quickly as he materialized - anyone else smell a payoff? - and JKR went on to fame and fortune.)

(This is not to suggest that your friend pilfered her story from some poor unsuspecting chap. I am merely suggesting that you should travel to the UK and ride up and down the countryside, chatting up strangers, until one of them spills the plot to a fabulous book - and then toss him off the train.)

(OK, maybe not exactly "toss" him off the train. "Trip"? "Nudge"? "Encourage a quick peek under"? Really, I'm just trying to help here.)

Jenn said...

I have thought about writing children's books before, but I don't have the passion for it right now.

Photography is what's got me on fire right now!

So, I understand the passion and with that passion you can do wonderful things, plus you rock in the creativity dept.

I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to tell you that I knew you could do it, but HEY YOU REALLY COULD!

Go get em, friend!

Andrea said...

I am so with you! Again! I've been immersed in Melissa Ford's "getting published" columns on BlogHer. SO helpful! My problem is finding a nice chunk of time to really write. I can't just do a few lines here and there. I need a couple hours just to GET there. You know?

Ann Imig said...

JUST so you know.

I started with a non-fiction book that fizzled out too. Even though I wrote oh maybe 16,000 words.

I did not wake up with any brilliant ideas. Just a bunch of okay ones and I decided I had to commit to one and start writing.

I don't know if my book will be more than just okay, but I just have to start somewhere if I want to realize this dream.

Let's talk more about this...Thank you so much for those awesome words you wrote about me.


a Tonggu Momma said...

I just joined a writing group, led by my neighbor, who is a published author. My characters have arrived, as has the overall story line, but - alas - the words just won't come.

Kazzy said...

As far as plot ideas... I got nothing. As far as encouragement... I got tons!

Kimberly said...

Fiction and non-fiction are different worlds altogether, aren't they? I go into an entirely different part of my mind when I write fiction, which is why I can't do it immediately after or immediately before blogging. The two do NOT jive.

I've about a dozen plot ideas vying for prominence right now. I'll let you know if I "break up" with any of them. =P Really though, writing fiction is something you can't know if you'd be good at, and no one else can know if you'd be good at. You pretty much have to try it on, see how it fits, and see if you like it enough to make the necessary alterations, as it were. Meaning, put in a lot of grueling hard work because you love it enough to do that.

Try it on, hun. You might be stunning in it.

Colleen said...

I believe the name you are looking for is... shhhhh.... rumplestiltskin!

Okay, so maybe not. I have a friend who does the same thing, she just watches the show in her head and writes it all down on paper.

I could write about the dreams that I have, they're weird, but virtually plotless.

Debbie said...

I was never even able to make up a good bed-time story for my kids! I have read about people having that character talking thing. Those are truly lucky people. And probably talented. But, I'll stick with the luck part:)

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

I just want you to know that I type your blog into my browser and, when I do that, a mixed feeling of calm, anticipation and...jealousy floods through me.

Because you jumble words together in this way that is so RAD. You are cool and sincere at the same time. I want to do that. But it's not really me. And so I'm jealous, but so very, very happy for you.

Happy because you have had a very REAL life and happy because you are not drinking (I am intimately connected to some boozers, one of whom up and died) and happy because you are writing and devoting this room at the BlogHer conference to serenity...

I just want you to know that while you are jealous of someone's imaginary people, there is someone jealous of your very real life.

And, to top it off...I get this great secret word::: "dingo" that I have to put in at your site. Who gets words like that? Only the extraordinary person who notices the ordinary.

MidnightCafe said...

Ok...I'll try not to tell you that you could totally write a book, and it would be good and people would read it. Right. I'm trying not to tell you. ;)

Have you ever considered participating in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo)?


Ok...I'm done not telling you that I think you'd be good at writing a novel...

MommyJ said...

I love this and I love you. Really. I do. I can relate to this post on SO many levels!

Becca said...

I'm the mom who can't make up bedtime stories, but managed to write books. It's different. And fun. And here's what I tell people. Writers write. So you're already a writer. As for finding time? We all have the same 24 hours. So if it's a priority, make it happen. (I write when kids are sleeping, in the morning, because I'm a morning person.) If you want it, it will happen. Good things do.

charrette said...

You know what? That same thing happened to me. I woke up one day with a book in my head. Only i haven't written it yet. The timing wasn't right. I jotted down the characters' names, the entire plot line (including flashbacks) and set it aside, for the book I had to write before this one -- The one I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November. Kind of like how Jacob had to work for seven years for Rachel...and got Leah.

The weird thing is, I never in my life wanted to write a book. I didn't think I had anything to say. Didn't think I could possibly have enough to fill up a novel.
And now? I feel like I easily have half a dozen books inside me.

I'm pretty sure when the timing's right, a book will suddenly flow out of you.

charrette said...

You know what? That same thing happened to me. I woke up one day with a book in my head. Only i haven't written it yet. The timing wasn't right. I jotted down the characters' names, the entire plot line (including flashbacks) and set it aside, for the book I had to write before this one -- The one I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November. Kind of like how Jacob had to work for seven years for Rachel...and got Leah.

The weird thing is, I never in my life wanted to write a book. I didn't think I had anything to say. Didn't think I could possibly have enough to fill up a novel.
And now? I feel like I easily have half a dozen books inside me.

I'm pretty sure when the timing's right, a book will suddenly flow out of you.

charrette said...

p.s. I fully agree with DeNae that your life is RICH with story!

Melanie J said...

You KNOW I'm going to say go for it. But even though I always wanted to write, even TAUGHT creative writing for five years, it was a long time before my first idea showed up. Then it was a couple of years before I sat down and wrote it. Like Charette, though, it opened a flood gate of ideas after I loosed the first one and now I don't have nearly enough time to write all my stories. But they're great for keeping me company.

Btw, the way you're talking, I can tell you're going to be a character driven storyteller. I am, too. The other side of the camp are the plot driven writers. And even though I'm very character driven, plots/scenarios come to me first. It's kind of like, "What if such and such happened?" and then the people show up to make the story happen. So maybe it's not the characters you need to wait for. Maybe you think of a situation and then the characters come next. Dunno. Just works for me that way.

TKW said...

How wonderful for your friend and Hell, yes, I'm jealous!

You've totally got a book in ya. Now when those characters show up for you, will you promise to send them my way, too?

Aging Mommy said...

Heather my dream has always been to write a book. As a child I was forever writing stories and poems and I read books after lights out under the covers in summer until I could no longer see the print on the page. But I don't know if I have a book in me and so far I'm still waiting for my characters and story line to show up too!

CC said...

Honestly, nothing about writing a book appeals to me. But I have lots of admiration for those who do have the urge!! Maybe when I'm older... ;)

alita said...

Write every day. Write whenever you have the extra time. I have read a lot of lackluster books in my time so getting published isn't the trick. I've even had short stories and poems published. Never a full length novel, but that is probably because I've never had the drive to write anything but short stories.

Find your passion and write the crap out of it! You already have a unique voice and point of view. If you never write it, it will never be published!

Work it, girl! :)

Elaine A. said...

I was laughing through most of this post!

You seem to be okay with the fact that you may never write a book, but if I was a betting woman... I'd put money on betting that you will someday... (but I'm not. A betting woman that is...) =)

Tooj said...

I truly enjoyed the parentheses. It was like you were letting us in on a secret. An entire book...written in chopped up parentheses. Let me know when your characters show up - I'll get in line to read it!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I could say all sorts of encouraging things about your creativity (it rocks) or your perseverance (you got it) or your unique writing voice (which is an odd phrase, because we don't speak when we're writing) (unless you work in TV news, in which case you read every word out loud as you type it).

But you told us not to say all that. So instead I'm just going to say (write?): I love that you say "Dude."

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

I'm late chiming in, but my one best piece of unsolicited advice is to join a writers' group. I Could. Not. Live. without mine. They keep me spewing out pages--they give me perspective--I must have them with me forever.

I've been working on a couple of fiction projects for YEARS and I'm freaking out because I just, finally, at last, was accepted for publication. I do not know why outside validation means so much to me but it just DOES.

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