Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Characters that Keep Coming Back, Or, Blumchen slips in the Window Again



The character who keeps coming back; most writers have them. The book that can’t or won’t be finished--those too are endemic. My particular dark horse always returns in the first warm weather, this year occurring in April. She’s here, sucking up my waking hours. Needless to say, I’m reediting and reimagining scenes and conversations I’ve visited many, many times. Wearingly I’ve journeyed to this imaginary world over a period of almost thirty years.

To explain more clearly, a reworking doesn’t take place every year, at least not since the first decade. “She” is the first book I ever completed, although a satisfactory ending, I think, still eludes me. Like Constanze of Mozart’s Wife, this young heroine insists on speaking in the first person, which both narrows and deepens her POV. It’s like writing from inside the confines of her 18th Century dress.

I’ve heard authors talk about having a “channeling” experience with their characters. There are many tales of automatic writing and spirit dictation, which sound as if they should be taken with handfuls of salt. However, after the experience I had writing this old and perhaps never-to-be-finished novel, I know it can happen. Ordinarily it takes a period of work to make your dolls get up and moving independently, but in this case, it seems I was the vessel chosen by a voice from the past—for at least a part of her story.

So began tulip-time April, and now burgeoning green May, and her voice is back again, calling for rewrites and stringent editing. She insists I do my best work, despite the fact that the story is “romance.” I hasten to add that it’s “romance” and in the truest sense of the word, in the way Romeo & Juliet is romance. I’m not using the modern commercial sense of the word, but am talking about the old-fashioned bloody insanity, which can so easily end in tragedy. It’s the true nature of the beast, which makes completing a tale of a hopeless passion so difficult. I don’t really want to know the end.

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