Ahhh, empathy!

Last week I was sadly writing towards a fast approaching end, not wanting to let go of my characters that I had become so attached to in the last year writing my first draft. I finally gave myself over to it, and the ending of this novel has been pouring out of me, as though in a long-awaited release. My character’s are coming to their conclusions, and I am feeling immense satisfaction for them. It is an odd feeling, to be happy with death, sorrow, and grief, for that is the ending many of my characters endure.

Last week, Linda wrote about fictive dreaming, and her post left me thinking. It made me realize that it was precisely this state, termed fictive dreaming (of which I had never heard the term for before reading this post) that was causing me such great fear.

When I write I enter this state very deeply. It is something I have always experienced, and is akin to reading except  it is  much much stronger when I am writing. Being pregnant, for me this state is actually deeper. I was not yet writing when I was pregnant with my first, and I do not remember writing at all with my second. Perhaps I was slowly editing that first novel. Yet this time, I am writing just about daily, and I find it nerve-racking how deep into my story and characters I fall. When I stop writing for whatever reason I am always shocked at how much time has passed before I even needed a breather.

The ending of my novel portrays quite a bit of suffering, and I just didn’t want to experience it. Now that I have given in to it, I find that there is a reason to this suffering. A reason I knew was there all along, but still, you have to experience something to fully appreciate it, right? It is human nature to believe all suffering and sacrifice is for a cause, even though this is not necessarily so in reality. But this is not reality, this is fiction, and fiction has to be better than reality.  In turn, the sorrows I write about must lead to a purpose, and in this case it is the growth of my MC.  Now my cause has focus, instead of only the pain.

I approach my last pages, probably about 10 to 20 left, and I know that this fear I had of suffering along with my characters has made me see the story in a more complete fashion.

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19 thoughts on “Ahhh, empathy!

  1. I think you have to care about your characters if you wish to create believable and well rounded characters. They become a part of you and letting them go can be quite hard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck with your writing.

  2. I love it when you write about writing. I wish I could get into that deep state as quickly as you do, but I do love being there whenever I can. And I sympathize with you going through your character’s pain, but I’m glad to hear you worked it out.

    • Thanks, Linda!
      Sorry for disappearing after this post – holiday mayhem! I read your comment while on the road and it thrilled me! Every time I post my thoughts on writing I do so with a rock in my tummy. Yet, I continue because I love reading other writer’s thoughts. It’s always difficult letting my work be read by others, even a simple post. Yet, recently a woman who organizes a music concert for preschoolers (I wrote an article pitching the concert that has held in late Nov), sent me an e-mail saying how much larger the turn out was because of the article (300 extra!). Makes me see how much writing can affect us – all kinds of writing!! Perhaps it is because we spend so much it with ourselves only, in our space that to share it can be scary (and thrilling!). Does this make any sense at all?

      • Yes, it makes perfect sense. I censor myself nearly every time I write my blog posts. But then, the reason I started my blog, and particularly why I keep its focus on writing, was because I wanted to be able to speak passionately about writing with other writers who would understand.

  3. We always refer to them as “characters” but to us writers they are very real. They come from a place inside us, perhaps some deeper part of ourselves.My characters never come from outside but from within. I can see that you are very much a part of your characters and your story and, this will only help strengthen your writing. Best of luck as you come to the end…
    It’s an exciting time. Isn’t it?

    • Hi Laura – yes it is exciting! Getting there. My daughter is done preschool today and I am hoping she will give my two hours to finish!

      “They come from a place inside us, perhaps some deeper part of ourselves”. I have wondered about this, wondered if in every character there is a little piece of me. I would like to think not 🙂
      Elements of interest, fascination, certainly. It’s an interesting thought.

  4. Congrats for taking the plunge and suffering with your characters. I love the term “fictive dreaming”. I love resurfacing from that point and realizing that I was staring into the story, not seeing what was physically in front of me for minutes, but the scenes playing out. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi Jennifer
    I can identify with your comments about writing towards the end of the novel. The beauty of being a writer of novels is that you get to visit with your characters whenever you want. You’re almost done with the first draft – congratulations! – then you get to do a rewrite and get to know them all over again.

  6. Wow, only 10 -20 pages left to go! Congratulations.

    I relate very well to your description of slowing your pace as you got closer to the end, “not wanting to let go of my characters that I had become so attached to”—and also to how the conclusion is just pouring out of you now that you’re letting it . . . It seems to be another way writing echos life, change and things ending to make way for new things is inevitable. Fighting it makes it harder; releasing it allows us to see reasons, connections, etc.

    I liked your line about “fictive dreaming” too. It’s not quite the same thing, but it still reminded me of a quote I just jotted down yesterday from a journal I bought my sister-in-law for Christmas: “If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don’t remove it–I might be writing in my dreams.” ~ Danzae Pace

    Glad to hear your writing is progressing, progressing, progressing!

    🙂 Ev

    p.s. >>>>Being pregnant, for me this state is actually deeper. I was not yet writing when I was pregnant with my first, and I do not remember writing at all with my second.<<<

    Does this mean you are expecting your third? If yes, yay and congrats! If no, well, I'm an idiot, aren't I? 🙂

    I

    • Hi Ev!! Yes, expecting a third!

      What a great quote! That’s a new one to me. Thanks for it!

      I finished one section yesterday and it was quite something. Now my main character is nearing her conclusion. I see it clearly, itching to write it 🙂 And now that I am in it, I don’t find it scare at all. lol

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