Before I knew what a lovely blog Deborah Bryan has, or what a wonderful author she is, I loved her. I loved her because, when I took my first small steps onto this blogging platform, she welcomed me with open and encouraging arms. She was the first to press my “follow” button, and the first to comment. So I have to admit that I’m a bit biased about Deb. She could pretty much murder someone in front of me, and I’d still think she was all right (she’s like Kyle MacLachlan in that respect).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go have coffee with my main character.
Taking time for coffee with character(s)
When I wrote my Glass Ball trilogy in 2004, time was in much, much more abundant supply than money.
Writing was my escape from being broke and without internet access in Japan. As long as I was writing, my world was the fictional town of Munsen, Montana. One of Munsen’s teens, Ginny, was a friend whose nearness helped me overlook the distance of my real-life friends.
I nurtured that nearness by writing virtually non-stop over the course of a month and a half. I’d wake up at 2 or 3 a.m., boot up my laptop and write until I had exactly twelve minutes left to get ready for work. I’d rush to get everything together and fly to work, arriving (barely) in the nick of time.
After work, I’d come home and crank out words until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’d then sleep for a few hours and repeat.
I did this daily for the month and a half it took me to write the trilogy.
Seven years later, I commute, work and take care of a dog and a toddler as well as caring for myself. I’ve edited only one of the books I wrote in Japan. I recently started editing the second, a task which seems so very much more daunting in light of my current circumstances than writing a book in six days or a trilogy in six weeks under my old ones.
When I’m away from the computer imagining what I’d like to do with my time, my answers include things like “watching Castle,” “reading,” “playing Bejeweled Blitz,” and “cleaning the toilets.” Just about anything quickly done seems better than working on a task that can’t be done except in microscopic bursts over a very long haul.
But when I do sit down at the computer, I remember how much Ginny meant to me when I really, really needed a friend nearby. As I breathe life into her story, I’m touched to remember how her strength in the face of her struggles helped me feel a little stronger in the face of my own.
I’m only able to give her 20 or 30 minutes of my time at a go these days, but when I do actually sit down to give her both my time and my attention, I discover I’m giving myself a gift, too. In those moments, I remember the old days with Ginny as if we’re sitting together and chatting over lattes. As she tells me about her troubles, I listen and give suggestions I hope she’ll heed.
Each moment I sit down to write, I invigorate a good old friend no less real for all she lacks a physical presence. She got me through loneliness more intense than any I’d endured before, or have endured since.
It may be a struggle to find the time for her, but she’s worth it. Only by giving her this time will I ever be able to learn her full, true story—not just the one she predicts is coming, but the one she’ll actually live.
I’m probably going to keep on wishing I’d decided to give her the time a few years ago, before I became a mom. But in the moments we share while the rest of my household sleeps, I’ll savor the time I do have to catch up with Ginny … and the joy of seeing, as we talk, her path become illuminated.