First, let me thank author Kate Bitters for her guest blog post about the importance of space. Space in the Feng Shui sense, not the outer space/stars and planets/alien invasion sense. Like any job one attempts, it helps to have the right work environment, and artists in general are likely the pickiest when it comes to work space. I know I am; I procrastinate in my writing until I feel comfortable in the space around me.
And speaking of space around me....
I got up this morning full of the nothingness of a dream that evaporated in sync with my eyelids creaking open and tried to run down the list of things I had to do or should probably do today, a Saturday.
Nothing. A blank to-do list. Oh, I could go get some groceries. After all, I like to eat sometimes. I could catch a movie - but that takes two hours of my day. I could write! On what? I'm between projects, at least of new writing. I've been dabbling with two previously written novels, punching them up to meet today's higher standards - my higher standards, now that I have some experience. But nothing already on the list.
Then it hit me, one nanosecond before I swung my head upward and my feet downward to mark the first movement of the day: Benjamin needs to tell Addy something important about a childhood trauma. She needs to know in order to feel sympathy for him, especially when she is giving him hell for what he did just before they met. Her reaction is crucial.
Who is Benjamin? He was a friend of mine, someone I worry about, a buddy whose side I would always take in a dispute. That's why I thought to offer advice. The problem? Benjamin is entirely made-up. A fictional character. And I was worrying about him as though he were a real person living a few miles away. And his wife, Addy, is also fictional but, given the plot line and dramatic arc involved, I have to care a little less about her than Ben.
After a while, I did get up and begin the day. As I perused email to see what had transpired during the night, I continued to agonize over the problem Ben and Addy were negotiating their way through. I couldn't shake it; I was involved whether I wanted to be or not. And this - THIS! - is what made an impression on me. I knew then that, without any doubt, I had about the dullest life possible for any human who is not faced with imminent chaos. My cadre of invented personas have much richer lives than I do.
Apparently, connecting with a fictional character - what some deem a 'character crush' - is a real problem. Studies have been done in this issue. (I can admit to a few crushes on a few movie characters, but not on the actresses who play them. But in books? Why not?)
That certainly made me feel sad. Sure, I can go out and get groceries, or run other errands that connect me with the real world. But I cannot change that real world into something a bit more palatable adventure-wise. I have not made, and am not likely to make, the evening news. Yet stop for a few minutes to ponder the lives of phantoms, protagonists and antagonists, of mere characters in a paper-flat world of vividness and I and my life pale by comparison. And Ben and Addy are only dealing with a domestic issue.
What about my good friend Sebastian Talbot in THE DREAM LAND* trilogy, who seeks the love of his life, Gina Parton, somewhere through a doorway to another world? Now there's some adventure going on! Far above what I muddle through in any given week. I'd expect such a fantastic (although quite plausible!) scenario to overwhelm anything I might schedule in my real life here on Earth. (On Earth: How quaint the phrase, that excites a wretch like me....)
The best I can do is get on with the day job (e.g., inciting youthful imagination and a will to create) or some facsimile of it, and in whatever odd hours may cleave between mundane mobility and gainful employment make merry in the meadows of the Muses.** That's always been the way. When I am bored in this dimension, I often escape to the next or some other dimension and there make sport. It is so even when the next dimension is not another world but merely a variation on our existing world. Ben and Addy and their problem exist in Seattle, Hawaii, and Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s - as all good stories do!
And sometimes, late at night, when I think I am occupied by something truly important, a random thought will pop into my head that I'm certain must be shared with Iris, the protagonist of A BEAUTIFUL CHILL (coming February 2014; more on this novel next time), something that may help her explain herself to her opposite number, Eric. Then, just as instantly, a ghostly tap on the shoulder reminds me they do not exist. Not really. And I laugh. Just a bit. Any more than that would be awkward; it's hard enough explaining myself to a non-fiction world.
*The Dream Land III recently underwent a slight revision to correct a typo on the back cover and about a dozen minor errors of punctuation and spelling in the interior. I apologize for any inconvenience or lack of enjoyment in the reading.
**Those who follow this blog will understand that whenever I slip blithely into alliteration, I have reached a desperate degree of boredom. All are thus warned to read on with care.
(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog.
Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.