I am a twelve year-old girl. I thought I had reached an enlightened stage in the craft of writing when I truly felt I was falling in love with my characters. I believed that was the secret to me understanding them and making them shine on a page. In reality, I was that love sick tween that writes a crush’s name on her book covers and draws little hearts around it, drifting to sleep each night fantasizing what our lives would be like together. Who the hell knows what my characters were actually doing while I was too busy making out with my imagination. Every nut who thinks they can write loves their characters, and they wear that affection on their sleeve like an obnoxious purity-pledging fanatic. It’s not hard—you just come up with people who have traits and stories you like and it’ll happen, adolescent bliss all over again.
I had brought this chapter to writing group I was excited about because it’s where one character starts to see another in a better light, and their friendship becomes what it needs to be to carry the story. Hearing it read aloud was like having a burn book with nothing but embarrassing stories about me read over the P.A. system at school (yes, you must suffer my teenage references this entire post). I hated it because I realized it was me talking, not either of the characters.
Sitting down to re-hash it, I knew I had to let the characters fall in love with each other…and completely ignore me! It’s brilliant, and the chapter came out exactly as it should have, but it is not fun writing that way. It’s like when someone you like falls for someone else, and you have to endure their cutesy public displays of unfair love all day because you don’t want to look like a bad friend. Internally, you’re rolling your eyes at everything your should-be-lover’s newest flame gushes, and you just wanna scream at them for not seeing that person the way you do—you know, the right way that only you can see. Ugh. And you have to prevent any of your own angst from seeping in or it’ll turn into another God-awful vampire series! The horror!
The more I learn about writing, the more I realize that it isn’t really about the writer at all. In fact, it’s best when there is no evidence of the writer in the story. You have to create the story’s world and completely exit after. No leaving little plaques declaring how awesome you are for coming up with such neat ideas. How thankless!