And Just Where Do You Think You’re Going?

My Broken Dolls characters spoke to me loud and clear this week, and here’s what they collectively said:

“Oh, no, you don’t. Just where do you think you’re going? You get yourself right back here and listen to us!”

You see, I had decided to take a little break from the sequel I’m working on, Broken Dreams, which includes the same characters, Sachi, Nobu, Terrence and Jubie. I thought I’d give the romance genre a try, and had been working on a short story or novella, whichever it turned out to be.

Unfortunately, writer’s block set in in terrible fashion. I’d write a sentence, erase it. Write a sentence, re-write it. Though my mind was filled with how I wanted to story to go, I let various distractions (non-writerly responsibilities, the Internet, other writerly responsibilities, the Internet, my dogs, the Internet, the garden, the Internet) keep me from putting it down on paper.

In fact, I even decided to put writing aside for a bit, and begin painting again.

Then, Broken Dolls called to me. There is one scene in the book that has received more critical commentary than any other, and that is the circumstance by which Sachi and her family learn that Papa is dead. (Sorry for the giveaway, but it’s early in the book.) Many people have told me they were not comfortable with how that scene is written, that it does not seem realistic.

It has remained a source of irritation for months now, and maybe subconsciously, I’ve been hoping nobody else would notice that scene or that it would fix itself.

Finally, I came to my senses, helped along by a very experienced editor who read it and said the very same thing. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. So, yesterday, I sat down to re-write the scene. After I thought and thought about how I could fix it, the words flowed onto paper like warm maple syrup.

When I finished the re-write, a realization hit me like a kick in the shin. (That kick might have come from Sachi, but my guess is it was Jubie.) My characters still have stories to tell. Stories that will become a part of Broken Dreams.

Like the barbed wire of the internment camps, my characters are keeping me from escaping their world until they have finished talking to me.

If I ever want to be freed, I’d better listen.

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21 Responses to And Just Where Do You Think You’re Going?

  1. Edward Downie says:

    Nice metaphor: “like warm maple syrup.” Those of us who lack the talent you display might have said “like a slug traversing a squash plant leaf.” So please continue to bring enlightenment to us, the impaired.

    • janmorrill says:

      Now, Edward, that would be an excellent metaphor to describe the flow of my words during writer’s block. I don’t know, I thought “warm maple syrup” was a bit of a cliche. But, having just had warm maple syrup over French Toast, it’s the first thing that came to mind. 🙂

  2. A kick in the shin, huh? Your characters are so much nicer than mine. My characters kick elsewhere while using very creative language to get my attention. That’s probably because I’m a little bit–ever so slightly–obstinate. Congrats. I can’t wait to read the revised scene.

  3. keliwright says:

    Good for you, and your characters! And thanks for the kck in the…shins you’ve given me. It’ll enhance the bruise from the kicking I got yesterday.

  4. Jack LaBloom says:

    I am so glad to hear you are going to finish Broken Dreams. Your characters have too much to share, to deny them the opportunity.

  5. Beth Carter says:

    Congrats on the breakthrough. Love it when that happens. I, too, loved the warm maple syrup reference. Now, I’m hungry!

  6. Beth Carter says:

    P.S. Did you chuck the romance?

    • janmorrill says:

      Thanks, Beth. No, I haven’t chucked the romance. Just set it aside. It’s definitely a story I want to tell, and it is a love story, but I’m not so sure anymore it will fit in the romance genre, because I haven’t decided yet if it will have a happy ending. 🙂

  7. Madison Woods says:

    LOL, glad your characters are insistent. Hopefully you won’t have to make any of them resort to more motivating moves than kicking your shins 😉

  8. larissahoffman says:

    Love your last line. Very beautiful!

  9. ruth weeks says:

    Ah, those wonderful characters of ours that insist on telling their stories. Where would we be without them? I get goosebumps thinking that Sachi, Nobu,Jublie, mama and papa aren’t finished and aren’t letting go of you just yet. Listen to them Jan. That is how magic happens.

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