I’ve decided that if you want to be a writer, you have to be completely mental. Seriously. Go ahead and abandon any hope of being normal. If you’ve already done this thanks to torturous years in high school, congratulations. You’re off to a good start.
I say this because, if you choose to become a storyteller, you’re going to have to hang out with a wide range of imaginary friends. And if you have more than one story in yourself, this will be an array of people who all exist, but shouldn’t meet. Because that’s almost too odd. But it’s more than the fact that there are people living in your head, it’s the fact that you have to do what they say.
I recently had some complaints from Callaway over word choices in The Siren, and I had to lovingly explain to him that they just talk that way, it’s not my fault. I might be the one who dreamed up the world, but they are the ones who tell me how things go down. And while I might not be the kind of girl to drop an F-bomb into conversation on a day-to-day basis, one of my characters might be. If I try and censor them, the story just isn’t as good.
Also, sometimes it takes me several drafts of a story for them to even clue me in on what’s really going on. Just like people I meet in real life, I don’t always understand why they do things the way they do or why. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads or hearts. If it was all me, shouldn’t I already have known that detail? Shouldn’t I have known this person was going to be as important as they are or that these two people were in love the whole time or that this guy had a secret in his back pocket from the start? But I don’t!
I just found this vlog from August of 2009, right after The Siren came out. I was home a lot, busy growing a baby, and I was reworking The Selection because I loved the story. Now, it had been done for a while, but then I had to go back and change entire scenes because I realized that my main character, America, wasn’t who I thought she was. And when she started whispering in my ear “That’s not what I would do”, I had to go back a fix it. My responsibility is to take what these people have shared with me and hand it over as honestly as I can. They mean that much to me.
And that makes me 100% certifiable. No one in their right mind should admit to needing to honestly translate what their invisible friends are shouting in their head.
I’m finding myself in a similar place now. I’ve been with the first book in The Selection so long that if something shifts, I know what that means. I can make things flow because I’ve lived it with America for years. But as I start going over the second book— something that’s only been in a completed state for a few months— trying to figure out where it goes next, I’m a mess! I keep waiting for the moment when she explains everything saying “Don’t worry, Kiera. I did that for a reason.”
For now, I just have to continue to act like a kook and focus on the people walking inside my brain and hope that I can get it all down right. Because, weirdo that I am, it matters.