Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Writing Is Not a Mystery - Characters and Intimacy

My happy stressless place - oh it's about people with intimacy issues!
by E. Amato

Raise your hand if you have intimacy issues.

Yeah, we all do, right?

We're more comfortable as avatars than as people. Okay, that's cool. You have your friends, fam, acquaintances and real intimacy, well you know.

Only one problem: you're also a writer. And if you want to get through a draft of that screenplay or novel, you are going to have to get real cozy, and maybe even naked, with your characters, and by reflection, with yourself.

There's no substitute for this. No cheating. If you want to get through the writing process, at some point, you are going to be challenged in this way. The mirror that is the writing process will hold itself up to you and you will have nowhere to run. Best to strap yourself in and hang on tight.

We write what is interesting to us. Often this means we write about what we haven't worked out yet. Sometimes we do this in very sneaky ways. Your story may be about two brothers, one of whom betrays the other, but somehow, you are feeling twisted as you work on it and finally realize it's about you and your ex-girlfriend and how she disappeared one day without even a note.

If the issues being brought up are too painful STOP WRITING and start healing. This can be as simple as meditating, free writing, or just doing gentle self care through the process. It may mean getting a therapist or doing regular check-ins with a friend.

As a coach, I would never push someone past their level of comfort. There should be stretching and growth in this process, of course, but not pain. Pain is bad.

When it gets like this, breathe, put on an episode of The IT Crowd and get yourself a milkshake (or the vegan, sugarfree alternative that suits you best). Be willing to reconsider your project, or put it away for later. It's possible you don't have to write it now. It's very possible you don't want to write it now. A screenplay or novel can take over your life in the best of circumstances.  There's no need to intensify that process.

On the other hand, you're going to have to find the place between the outside of your comfort zone and pain. That's where the good stuff is. In order to write characters with depth and a level of reality, you are going to need to spend serious time with them. They are going to start to feel real to you. Their world may start to feel more real than your own. This is okay. This is good. This is creation. Love this.

I often think of Eames Demetrios who has created a parallel universe to our own in his Kcymaerxthaere  He could not create this fantastic world if he didn't want to hang out in it, know these people and live these stories. Your world may not be 3D, but it needs to be real inside of you. For that to happen, you are going to have to get close with these characters and their joys and sufferings. It's inevitable.

The good characters, the evil characters, they are all emanating from your imagination and they will all contain parts of you. You may find things out about yourself you did not know. That might be weird.  If you go over to the dark side in your brain in order to write your villain, that doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a person capable of compassion and understanding. But remember, it's your actions, not your inner literary ramblings, that define who you are and your boundaries. Create a safe and balanced safe for yourself and write.

Zestyverse Editor/Publisher E. Amato has woven a creative life that moves fluidly between words, stages, film, and practical activism. She was a member of the 2011 Los Angeles Slam Team and has competed at Poetry Slam Nationals and WOWps. In 2010, Zesty Pubs released her first collection, Swimming Through Amber, her Kindle book 5 in 2012, and her second poetry collection, Will Travel, in 2013. In 2007 and 2008 Down Home traveled to the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, garnering 5-star reviews consecutive years – a rare honour. She recently produced Homeless in Homeland, Saria Idana’s solo piece, which received 4 stars at the Brighton Fringe 2013. 

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