Friday, December 14, 2007

A core of consistency

I was driving down the street the other day, thinking about my kid who's going through that whole teen aged angst thing, and trying to do the empathy thing and wondering if I'm so far removed from the middle school thing that I can't relate anymore, when it hit me that yeah--I remember, or rather--choose not to remember those years when everything sucked and I hated everyone and the only way out looked like walking myself through the final exit sign. I think there are a lot of things we block. Bad memories, and things that get tucked away. I created Keegan's sister, Corlis, as someone who's compartmentalized so much of herself that she only operates on the surface level, and any kind of deep feeling gets her scared.

Maybe I just chose to forget what it's like before people get that kind of control. I'm compartmentalized to the ninth degree and I only pull open the file cabinet when I need to fish something out for my writing.

I'm doing well on Dead Gorgeous. I think it's going to be a damned strong book. (lol!! I hope I get better with each book...), but I was having a hard time getting a fix on Connor's internal thoughts. Jacey came through just fine, but Connor had so much of himself locked away I didn't have a clue what was there beside that he wants to get away from DalCon and he hates the way he looks.

...maybe I just never got into his head because it's scary in there. Keegan was easy because so much of him is focused outward. He wants to save his brother, he cares for his sister. He wants DalCon to succeed, and he tries...so much.

Connor is just as damaged as Corlis, and maybe I need to think about it some more. There has to be a catalyst scene somewhere in his childhood, maybe in his teens, that created that loathing for his external appearance. I know this guy who got out of home when he was seventeen by moving in with this older woman who used him for sex. He thought it was cool in the beginning, y'know--sex for room and board, away from his parents. What teen aged boy doesn't want that? She paid for everything and he had nothing--then one day, she kicked him out. And his parents wouldn't take him back.

He told me ever since then he's had this control issue, where he has to be on top, pay the bills and own the property. He's bound and determined he's gonna die with everything, because at the point where he thought he'd found the answer, he found the nightmare. Not to say having an Expedition and a good job isn't a good thing, but his relationship with his girlfriend is seriously fucked--and yeah, I thought of different ways to say it, but glossing it over doesn't cover the fact that this guy is damaged, and he's coping with the damage in a bad way. Not accumulating stuff, but how he sees women. Users, right? Living on the street for a year messed with his head.

Writing is a very intimate process. Either you see people very clearly, understand where the hell they're coming from--or you unlock that file cabinet and pull out the bad stuff. The stuff marked with "EYES ONLY".

Know yourself

Sun Tzu said it thousands of years ago, and it's still pertinent. You need to know who and what you are, all the bad and good, and in between stuff, and stuff you would really rather you never knew again--and use it.

Even if it hurts.

7 comments:

Dayna_Hart said...

*sigh* I've been writing a lot of 'damaged' characters lately. On the brink of being broken. I'm not sure what that's about.

And y'know...I hate when people try to use my characters to psycho-analyze me...like the fact I'm writing about these damaged people is somehow...a 'damage' of my own.

On the other hand...it really is like...reading someone's psych file or something...getting to know someone more intimately then you'd ordinarily know anyone...it's fascinating. So no, I'm not using my writing to exorcise my own demons...I'm just using it to 'get to know people'. I still don't think my family would approve of my social life ;)

Why do I always ramble on your blog?

jodi said...

because it's good to ramble. Nobody I know in real-life reads my blog except for Cowboy, and I can spill all the stuff I normally wouldn't say to the people who see me one way and expect me to stay that way.

I don't think they'll like my book. And I know they won't like my people.

...but demons? Yeah, I've got some, and for me--maybe writing really is about some deep seated need to explore stuff. Little bits of me are in all my characters, even the bad ones, and the ones like Rafe, that seem okay on the surface.

I dunno.

You're asking a hard question this early in the day. :)

Dayna_Hart said...

lol Sorry. Sort of.

I guess the parts of my characters that are me...are pretty superficial. Like I get flustered in most social situations. And I really really really hate bugs.

But I wrote about a burner recently. Someone who physically couldn't feel unless it was pain...and that's not me, yknow? I mean...I can't even make the Freudian jump and figure out what I have that is even remotely the same.

And I found out some real-life people have read my blog once or twice. That freaked me out. I wrote oatmeal entries for a while after that. Yknow, filling, but not really much in the way of flavour.

And we all have demons...but I'm not sure we write about them as...explicitly...as people would like to think. Even when I write about stuff which has, actually happened to me...it's not intended to be autobiographical. I hesitate to write characters who have strained relationships with their mothers, b/c my mom would totally read into that, yknow? (And I rather like Mom.)

So, even when I write a character who doesn't get along with her sister (and I can relate...) it isn't so much about me excising that shtuff from my own life...but finding a way to relate to the character.

Gah. Did any of that make any sense whatsoever? I'm suddenly feeling pseudo-intellectual, which would suggest it didn't ;)

Alice Audrey said...

We can't help but put a little of ourselves in what we write, cathartic or not. It comes with the teritory.

It think that's part of why writing the Suzie's House blogs gets a bit intense for me sometimes. When I'm putting the blasted thing up minutes after I wrote it I don't have time to back up and think how it's coming across. I just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

jodi said...

lol, Alice. Maybe that's why it's hard for me to read it, and I tend to read your other blog entries. It's also why I skip over sex scenes from people I know. And if I do read them I get this weirded out feeling of...er, weirded-out ness.

But yeah--I know what you mean, Dayna. Good writing sells, but great writing verberates and lingers on in your mind when everything else is done and the book is closed. It's why some first books are so fabulously fine. Like Bujolds Shards of Honor, and Jim Butcher's Storm Front--they dig down so deep, it's like writing in blood. All the structure and voice and sound--all laid out bare. Storm Front is a little awkward, and Shards of Honor is naked, but maybe it's not pyscho-analyzing your demons, but knowing those pieces of you and wanting so much to fix what went wrong that you're not writing from the outside in--but the inside out. Shadow-boxing maybe. Or Demon-hunter.

jodi said...

btw--not sure how I'd feel if my family read my blog. I think--sometimes even people who love you don't always know who and what you are. People are constructs. You show aspects of yourself to different people. Mother, daughter, wife and friend. I'm not the same Jodi to my husband and Cowboy--and I'm not Jodi to my kids.

And I try not to write about my Mom--but Cowboy wants a cameo. So what's up with that? :'

Alice Audrey said...

LOL. He's already got his picture in your blog, doesn't he? Give him a cameo.