For the last several months I have
had made very little time to write. I could post blog after blog of reasons excuses but none of them matter. The point is that I should make time for writing more often and I haven't done so. I missed my stories and characters. Neither were ever far from my mind. I was stuck on one story and thought I was finished with another. I debated between starting something new or continuing on one of the other stories I have yet to complete. I couldn't decide so I did nothing. Bad choice on my part. The longer I go without writing, the less qualified I feel to do so.
Remember that story I thought I had finished? Something compelled me to look it over. I don't know what triggered it but the main character started talking to me again and I knew I would be working on it. I hadn't done anything with that story for almost a year. I was intimately familiar with it but it felt newer in my mind going over it this time. As I made edits here and there I began to connect with the character more and more and realized how much I missed her and the world I had created. I wanted to re-engage with her, relive the scenes and explore her more deeply. I found connections that I hadn't seen when I had been working on that story non-stop. I thought I loved the protagonist before, but I found a new level of love this time around.
What really stood out to me this time was the dialogue. Throughout different revisions, I struggled a bit with the dialogue in this story. Sometimes I made the conversations redundant, other times I couldn't decide the point of the exchange between characters and I used it as filler when I knew I should be adding action but wasn't sure where to go with it. This time around, I felt more comfortable with their thoughts and it helped me express them in a way that was true to the characters. I challenged myself as to whether more should be said, or less was better. I asked why the character wanted to say something, or if I was using the character as a means to tell the reader something through dialogue that could be better shown through other writing techniques.
In doing this exercise, I uncovered a side of my character that had only been on the surface. She became more real to me, which I did not think was possible after working on her story since 2012. But that's the thing about stories. They will continue to change and evolve as the writer evolves. When I started the story I held a lot of feelings back. I had just been through some traumatic events and I was guarded. That came through in the character development. When my characters spoke, it felt as though there was a lot they should have said, but did not. Advisor after advisor worked with me on digging into the characters and creating believable, complete dialogues. At times I got it, other times I couldn't crack it. I was too close to the story and way too afraid of tainting it with the jumble of feelings I battled to keep away in order to stay sane.
Five years later, I am stronger. I have grown into a different person. I deal with my pain and PTSD completely differently. Seeing my characters and this story through this new lens has unveiled layers I didn't see before. This time around I am able to allow myself to take the interactions to a place I couldn't before. I felt closer to the feelings my characters would be expressing and it flowed more naturally. My comfort with my own emotions helped me shape theirs, which in turn created opportunities for them to interact with each other in a broader way.
When I look back at the version I put away last year, I feel like I did that story a disservice by believing it was done. I am glad my protagonist allowed me a break but then held me to the fire to tell her story from a place I hadn't allowed before. She is persistent and bold, and I can learn something from her.