Monday, June 14, 2010

Cryin’ on the Inside

I had a phenomenally inspiring weekend that kicked off with the Long Island Romance Writers annual networking luncheon. I was a luncheon virgin having never attended before, but it was a fabulous event that I'll tell you all about - some other time.

As usual, attending a writing event lit the banked fire under my butt to write. I've actually been doing well, but I got stuck in editing the old stuff again in the hopes that it would inspire new stuff and, well, that never works. I have a couple scenes blocked in my head I only need to get them down on the page as they do no one any good locked in my brain. I churned the whole bloody thing out Saturday night with 3600 words spewing from my fingertips and then Sunday I massaged them a little and added till I reached the 5200 level. I'm pretty pleased with myself, but that won't last, and I'm not writing this to fluff up my traditionally drooping wings.

The scene is when my heroine delivers grievous news to a girl's parents. OK – yes, the girl is dead, but before she died, my heroine made a promise to tell the parents so they wouldn't spend the rest of lives in ignorance. She's giving them closure, a horrible kind of closure, but nonetheless. And it's an important scene because the hero sees her empathy and pain as she's talking to the parents and begins to finally accept that she (our heroine) is not the heartless, scheming, manipulative jade he thought she was. He's suspected this for a while, but he's been denying it. Now he has to finally accept it.

This is also a turning point for our heroine because she's got more to do with this girl's death than she's letting on. Confronting the parents here opens up this wound and finally, she starts letting our hero in and he (along with the reader) begin to learn more pieces of the back story. So it's a BFD scene, emotion wise for all parties, right?

OK – here's where I fess up that I am not a crier, which sometimes is simply another manifestation of my control freak tendencies (the "I will not cry mentality) but not always.

Here's an example: When we were driving to the cemetery after my grandmother's funeral, my rightfully grief-stricken sister said to me "why aren't you crying?" to which I answered, "because I'm a cold, empty bitch" but of course that wasn't it. For me, tears are a private thing whenever possible (and sometimes it's not). And at that particular event, there were things to do, cars to follow, people to greet, a mother falling to pieces, a grandfather mute with grief, and other family angst to manage. Grief (and crying) took a back seat. Also, a good cry makes me ravenous, seriously, will-eat-my-hand hungry, and there wasn't a WaWa near the cemetery (Kidding. A little.)

Crying is an important emotional release for a person. I get that and I agree with it. People need to cry sometimes or frankly, there's something wrong with them. It's a necessary part of being human and, probably, having a soul. And I think that's exactly what it should be used for, not some manipulative tool to get your own way. All too often people, particularly women and I'm guilty of this too particularly in my juvenile past, use tears to this end. I'm not that kind of person and, frankly, I think it stinks. Also, there's still that little girl in me who gobbled up Native American literature and believed that crying was a show of weakness. Those early beliefs are hard to circumnavigate as an adult however much reason says I'm off my rocker. Of course, I scream bloody murder instead – better to be angry than scared or worse, hurt –and I'm not quite convinced that's any better, but what are ya gonna do?

So there I was Saturday, the anti-crier for lack of a better phrase, writing this scene where this mother is literally destroyed by the news this stranger (our heroine) has brought to her door. And as I'm writing, she (the mother) is screaming at her husband that she wants her baby and the words, and I say this with no aim for hyperbole, were absolutely flying from my fingers. And as I came to the end of the flow and sat back, drained, in my desk chair, I realized the corners of my mouth were fiercely turned down.

Bet you expected me to say I was crying, right? Ah - psych. I'm not that far off the reservation yet, but after this experience, I'll admit, I'm not ruling it out either.

It was pretty cool. This woman, while a minor player in the overall scheme of things had become a real enough character to me that her pain was causing me sadness.

Listen, everybody remembers Joan Wilder writing the end of her novel at the start of Romancing the Stone while sobbing along, tissues used up, as she pounded out the triumphant finale. That will never be me.

But I've had years of listening to or reading of writers who say that their characters took off with the page, or that they had no idea what was coming next , the characters took over or any other myriad of things writers say about the creative process and where the work comes from. I never got that. I mean these people and these ideas are coming from the writers' heads. How could they not know?

I'm not sure I get it still, but I definitely had something special going on this Saturday. Hard won, hard found, and hardly known, but something.

Though I am curious about what might happen next.

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