I’ve been thinking a bit about those things that I am thankful for which come with being a fiction writer. The more I think about it, the longer the list, but there is one thing that is standing out to me just now, the way that writing helps me to expand my ability to connect with an array of emotions. To place myself, for moments, in the shoes of others.
When my characters are in a certain state, I try, at the very least to imagine that emotion. This has its downsides… characters in grief, or suffering, can be hard to write, and sometimes if I dig too deep and don’t have the proper time to work my way back to reality I can carry their emotions and frustrations into the real world. But sometimes there is a very bright side. They can make me laugh, lift my spirits, and give me hope just as easily as they can make me sad, angry, or frustrated.
Right now I am working with two characters who are very much in love. They’ve been in love a long time, so they aren’t at that lovey-dovey stage… rather the comfortable point where they have a long-standing friends and deeper emotions tied up within it. They can exchange a great deal of meaning with a look or glance, and know one another well enough that there isn’t a lot of time spent having to explain themselves, instead being able to talk about what they are in the middle of, what is to come. They are comfortable with one another, and know that they can be themselves.
I recently wrote a scene where the two of them were having the opportunity to create a story together, one that was theoretically about themselves (to fool someone else). I was grinning at my computer like a mad-woman, laughing as they riffed off of one another to create the story while exchanging looks of silent communication. And, for a brief moment, I got to enjoy that feeling. Drawing on relationships of my own, bits and pieces that are, or have been, similar I am able to put my own emotional and relational understandings into their characters. Since they are their own characters, not simply mimics of me, I also have the joy of seeing the scene unfold, living in the brief moments of them being themselves and just having fun. As I was writing this particular scene (which very well may not end up in the final draft) I had that great feeling that comes with reading a good book. I was there experiencing the story as it unfolded. In that moment, I felt the characters become real… and it was a powerful feeling. A silly little scene, nothing highly important to the plot, nothing that needs to happen — just them sitting there having fun, playing a little joke on the main characters niece. Being relaxed and being themselves — and I love that I was able to share in the experience, share in the moment.
It is powerful, and I am so thankful that I am able to do such a thing as part of my craft.
If you are a writer or musician or artist, what are some of those moments within your work that you are thankful for? Or what is it about the work of others that you are thankful for? Or… anything else?