What my character had to tell me

As promised I’m reporting back on last months’ meditation of selecting a word that represents what the story I’m working on is about, in the hope that it would help me move forward in writing my novel. I selected the word anger, because I got the sense my narrator still held a lot of anger about the events that happened during the summer she is recounting. I expected that underneath that anger was sadness, disappointment, confusion and blame. I sat in meditation saying the word anger with my narrator in mind. What came up was truly unexpected.

Turns out my character is angry, but with me. Where the hell have you been?

Which brings me back to December’s post and its meditation on letting go. I did indeed let go of things from 2017. I let go of a business idea that I’d spent time and money on. I let go of thinking about dating. (I wasn’t even dating or swiping; but just debating whether to get out there, which in itself consumed time and energy.) I let go of bag-loads of stuff I didn’t need anymore. I felt lighter, freer. My mind and calendar were much clearer.

I certainly made room for new experiences. Then, I filled it. I signed up for not one, but two classes. I agreed to write a couple more book reviews. I met with potential clients about freelance work. I decided to tackle some home repairs. All this was in addition to my ideas for essays, articles, course development, memoirs, children’s books, and a mural in my backyard. Meanwhile, my novel and my character sat waiting, and when I did spend time with them it wasn’t much and my mind wasn’t focused. There were too many exciting things vying for my attention.

When I sat and meditated on my narrator’s anger, she refused to talk about the book. If I’m going to tell you my most inner thoughts, memories, fears, and regrets, I’m going to need some commitment.

So, I recommitted myself to it, to her. I went into my office and cleared off my desk. I haven’t worked there since my husband died in August of 2015. I’ve been wandering about different locations in the house, being easily distracted. I created hours that nothing could touch – no coffees, lunches or meetings. Only the school calling about one of my kids would get me to leave my desk.

 

My Desk

All those other ideas and projects will wait, just like the dishes always do.

I learned my character had things to say not only about what goes on the page, but on how to get me to the page. She reminded me that what you give your attention to will grow. Now, I sit at my cleared-off desk, take a few breaths, and listen as she tells me all about the summer of 1976 and where her anger comes from.

 

 

7 thoughts on “What my character had to tell me

  1. abbysblog52905075 March 3, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    I love this kind of exercise because you’re engaging in active imagination, which Jung promoted. I am so glad you discovered how angry your character is because it sounds like you’re motivated now. Yay angry characters!

  2. Susan Magee March 3, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    I find it so touching that you discovered the need to be back in your office, and that you hadn’t been working there since your husband died. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Bonnie Hokescedrov March 6, 2018 / 9:23 am

    Best wishes to you, Susan, from your old neighbors on Naudain Street. Looking forward to new output from you. I so enjoyed proofreading a previous novel of yours set locally in Philadelphia. Really, really good!
    Best wishes,
    Bonnie

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