I’ve heard advice that went along the lines of “Don’t write yourself into your story.”
I have to admit, I think that’s pretty sound advice. When I was in Junior High, I began a novel where I had two characters that I based off of myself. They were twins, each representing a part of myself. Let’s just say things didn’t turn out so well. Apparently my two halves didn’t get along. One of them picked on the other to the extent that she fell into a deep depression and ran away from home.
I thought I’d learned the lesson, but I guess not. When I began the White WIP, the character was loosely based off of myself. It took me several drafts to realize that she had as much personality as a piece of paper. Or maybe the paper had more personality. She’s been revised quite a bit, and I’m still not quite happy with the character. It’ll take some more work, that’s for sure.
So when I began my NaNoWriMo Novel, I knew that I had a character who would be going through some trials very similar to my own. I’m not saying that she was based off of me, because that couldn’t be further than the truth. I wish I had half of the backbone she does. And since this is the third novel I’ve written with her, I know her pretty well. Which is why when I began this novel, I had a strong feeling that this character had a new stumbling block that was all too familiar to me. Though, of course, hers just needed to be amplified much more.
This time, I was incredibly hesitant to write the scene. Just writing the outline made me nervous. And incredibly emotional.
So imagine my surprise when that wasn’t the part of the scene that just tore out my heart. I had been bracing myself for so long that I hadn’t stopped to examine what else happens. It’s a scene involving some of my most beloved characters, and Aydra probably holds the largest part of my heart. But this story is about her son, not her. And right now, he’s feeling a bit of resentment.
“Have I taught you nothing?” Larzo demanded, shaking Rowell as he spoke. “You should respect and love your mother. If it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t exist.”
“Maybe I don’t want to exist if I have to be like her,” Rowell retorted. He heard her gasp, the sound even more painful than his father’s punch had been.
I’ll admit that I might have gasped with Aydra when I wrote that. Good thing I was alone. It’s in these moments that I realize how real these characters are. Instead of a part of me, I become a part of them. And even with the pain, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. These characters are real to me and that’s when I realized that even if we have similar trials, it doesn’t mean that I’m putting myself in them. Hopefully at some point, they’ll be able to teach me how to deal with my own problems.