Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Sword of Damocles

A young woman of my acquaintance has been calling my name these last few months. She started with gentle whispers. “Rocky. I’m here. Look at me.” Progressed to the shoulder-grabbing, head-tilting, “Dammit, I’m right here, dude. Pay attention.” Then migrated to the cheek-smacking, eye-poking, “You’re going to forget all about me if you don’t open your eyes, you ...!”

Yesterday, she screamed.

I’ve thought a lot about her. Spent blocks of times with her dreaming about all the possibilities. But as she pointed out to me yesterday morning ...

“You’re not bringing me to life. You can’t just dream me into existence.” Or, more like “YOU DAMN WELL BETTER GET ME ON THE PAGE.”

Her name is Miranda. She’s one of the main characters of my next novel. My heroine, one might say. And I’m falling for her. She wants it to happen, and so do I. Now, we have to make it so.

So what’s prevented it so far?

I’ve been taking my own sweet time on Catch a Falling Star. A page here. Three pages there. I have a couple of friend’s manuscripts that I’m reading and commenting on. After all, why does mine have to be finished this very minute? I don’t have an agent or editor with a deadline dangling over me like the Sword of Damocles.

Yeah, right.

That must change, because Miranda is waiting not-so-patiently. She wants to live, is fighting for existence, and I’m the only one who can make that happen.

Am I crazy for assigning living status to fictional characters? Maybe, but so what? I’ve always read that way and always will. I try my very best to live in their world while reading. I celebrate their triumphs, cry at their tragedies, laugh at their follies. I well up even now just thinking of the line, “I’ve loved you all my life.” (see David Copperfield, the chapter entitles “A Light Shines on My Way.”) Some part of me does manage to keep the two worlds separate, sometimes with a dividing line no thicker than a theatre scrim, but it’s there and in no danger of dissolving.

Not yet, anyway.

It’s difficult to start reading a new book because of that intensity. When I crack open one I haven’t yet read, I’m looking to form a connection. A new one and a strong one. How could it possibly compare to the many times I’ve lived in the world of David Copperfield? Obviously, it can’t. But I’m always looking. Occasionally, I form an immediate bond like I did with Harry Potter. He yelled and screamed at me, and along with Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and McGonagall pulled me into Hogwarts. Before I knew it, I learned to live there and loved it.

To that extent Catch a Falling Star has become like that for me. And I’ve just entered another growth phase with it. I’m finding new things about Gina and Christine, and they affect Jerry and Shirley. I can feel them growing, changing, becoming far more complex than I envisioned when I created them eleven years ago.

Eleven years with these characters. Wow! A long time. The last four have been pretty intense.

I’ve grown to love them. They’re part of my family, though I can never see them in a corporeal way. But with that love comes an abiding hatred. Love and hate are closely related, you see. Not opposites at all. And I’m vacillating back and forth.

The damn book itself has become like the Sword of Damocles in my life. I’ve tried to reach the heights of the great storytellers and have been granted permission to sit in the thrown with no real power, just this sword handing over my head dangling by a single horse hair ready to fall and slice me to ribbons.

Unlike Damocles, though, I refuse to relinquish my uncomfortable occupancy of the throne. I’ve kept trying to earn my place with the great storytellers, period. I’m one of those who had much rather be a small fish in a big pond.

To that end, I’ve put away Miranda and Laura and several others to hang with the Falling Star family a little longer. I feel that I’m close to setting Falling Star in stone. That the growth will end. The new discoveries and twists will go away and the final representation of that world will be on a shelf. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. But it has to happen and Miranda is reminding me of that.

She’s becoming insistent. Persistent. And I’m becoming less resistant to her considerable charms.

So, I need to finish Catch a Falling Star, that is true. I can’t leave it unfinished or the horse hair will break and the sword will impale me. I also have to finish reading and commenting on my friend’s manuscripts. But I also need to take some time each day, even if it’s no more than thirty minutes, to spend with the lovely, tough, vulnerable, frightened, brilliant Miranda.

When she finally secured my attention yesterday, I nodded noticing just how lovely she’ll be.

“Bring me into the world, Rock,” she said, smiling.

“I promise.”

She took my cheeks in her warm hands. “I’ll be good to you.”

She will. And I will keep my promise to her.

But there’s that dreaded sword ...

No weight change last week. I came in at 271 for the second week in a row. Something will have to give, I know as my 35-year reunion is coming up next week and I have friends coming in from Cleveland.

I’ll continue on with Catch a Falling Star, and begin an outline of Miranda’s story.

I’ll let you know next week how I did.

BTW. This came in at under a thousand words. Yay! That was my self-imposed word limit. :-) But this is the first in awhile under.

1 comment:

  1. I, for one, am super excited to see Miranda bloom into the character / person I know she will be. I've already seen a bit if her and instantly fell in love.
    But I also want you to do justice to Catch a Falling Star because THIS revision is THE revision, my friend. Love and miss you. Xoxo