Moments to Remember: D’s Character Origins

Part Two in the D/A Dialogues Origin Story – in response to the WordPress Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

Whenever I think of D's origins, I see these two images.

Whenever I think of D’s origins, I see these two images.

A: What is a character’s true origin story? Is it their personal history, or is it the story of how they came to reside in an author’s imagination?

D: Both.

A: Okay, which one would you prefer to tell?

D: I think, actually, it would be a better if we told the people how I came to live in your head, first. It started with that bookshelf you so lovingly carted across the sea.

A: Indeed it did. Take it away, D.

D: What A didn’t tell you was that she continued to write while she lived in Ireland. When she left university, and became a pub’s writer and web designer-in-residence, she dug out that dusty old manuscript and started editing it again. She even showed it to someone to read. He’s the one that introduced her to me. He’s A’s ex-husband, and he lives back across that sea. The Boy and I are all that remains of his time in our lives.

That was the first moment to define my life as a character – that introduction. A knew I belonged to the story.  I can’t tell you much about that time in his head. I was a different man. I was angry – more warrior than mystic. I was proud, yes, and skilled, but young.

A: You were also blonde.

D: I was?

A: Yeah. I read my original notes. Blonde warrior. Blue eyes. Tattoos. You were cold and cruel, too – with a massive chip on your shoulder. No wonder I didn’t like you.

D: Which brings me to the second moment that defined me as a character: being ‘gifted’ to a writer who may have appreciated me (for all her whinging, she did appreciate me, otherwise I would never have gotten anywhere near her precious manuscript), but did not understand me. To make matters worse, despite not particularly liking me, she stuck me in the book without really trying to find out how I fit. Yes, it was my story but there were certain things . . . missing.

Much of Changelings is not about the youth I had been – I had already been tempered by war and heartache by the time I step out onto the stage. As much as Changelings is an adventure story – a romp through time, as it were – it’s also about living with past mistakes, and creating a future worth living.

As A’s notes indicate, the me she met originally was not suited for that tale. She had to find out who I really was, and as life got in her way, she did not have much incentive to do so.

When she discovered the religious and political strife of seventh century England and Scotland – when she re-discovered many of the myths that were echoed in her work – she started to find me. Not only that, she wanted to find me. It was quiet, that desire, but it was there.

The final moment of my origin came relatively recently. I had existed rather quietly, I think, in A’s head for all those years. She never talks about the first-person narrative book she wrote – my book. It may not have gone past 100 pages, but she did write it. I won’t say she failed – she just wasn’t ready yet.

Then I started bugging her friends to make her start writing again—

A: True story – had a friend call me up and tell me she was dreaming about D, and perhaps I should start writing again? That was 4 years ago. I’m stubborn.

D: So am I. My persistence was rewarded, and though she didn’t write anything of note until last year, bugging her friends resulted in a redraft of the book outline. She revisited what she had written in my book and brought those elements into the story. I finally had a place – a real place.

Of course, A is still learning – we’ve hit a roadblock on some of the timelines for the sequel, but we’re working on it. We can do that now – thanks in part, to this blog. It’s ever so helpful to be able to snark at her in public. Cathartic too. Plus, she has the support of other writers. Without you, she’d be a hermit. And I don’t think a hermit would be as willing to get my life out onto the page.

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?  (D as imagined by Green Embers)

Could you imagine this guy as a blonde?
(D as imagined by Green Embers)

A: Well, gee, D. That was pretty complimentary. Kind, almost.

D: I know. I’m not such a bad Druid after all, am I?

A: I suppose not.

D: In fact, I think I’m pretty spectacular.

A: I was going to say, just don’t let it go to your head, but I can see it’s already too late for that.

D: Go to my head? Whatever do you mean, woman?

A: Exactly – watch it, or I’ll make you blonde again.

D: You wouldn’t dare!

A: And I think that wraps up the origin story of a character–

D: A, we are not done here – promise me you won’t make me blonde!

A: Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exploration of D’s origin as a man. Have a great day–

D: A! Are you listening to me?

A: And thanks for reading!

D: A!!!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Broken

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

I am a collector of broken things. Usually I’m the one who did the breaking – butterfingers is a kind term for what happens when breakable objects come within reach of my hands. And broken things linger; I have a spot for them – a home – to wait until I get around to applying the glue that will make them whole again. It can take years before that happens, however. Once broken, it takes me a long time to find edges that match and patterns that connect. The piece waits to tell its story.

This is the story of a book I broke.

I didn’t know I was doing it at the time. In fact, I thought I was fixing it. I thought that the character that had been handed to me would make the book. I thought he would save it.

I wasn’t fond of him, that Druid interloper, but as his story spun itself out in my head, I knew he belonged. It was his story, just as much as it was mine – just as much as it was the story of the characters that populated it long before he made his appearance.

So I broke it – even as I kept writing the second and then the third book in the series, I was working with a mutilated thing, a limping shadow. It had so much potential, but I couldn’t find it. He felt out of place, as though he hadn’t had time to come to love the other characters as I did. And they – well, they resented him almost as much as I did. His edges and patterns did not match. I was afraid they never would.

I relegated it to a dusty corner of my mind, to wait with all the other broken things, until I could see it fully. It took a decade.

When the Druid stepped out of that corner, fully himself, I realized the book could be whole again. I sat down right away and started typing. I called it a revision at first, but it became obvious, as I wrote in my 500-word-a-day chunks, that it was more than that. I was putting the story back together, the way it was supposed to be told.

The edges – where the Druid started and the story he adopted ended – were mended. The patterns – the weave of his life as it affected the clan who made him – burned brightly. Instead of a jumble of pieces, it became a tapestry. Each thread was lovely but the tale they told left me breathless. Good or not – quality fiction or not – that it gave itself to me, and waited for me to fix it, means a great deal to me.

The story that was broken is now whole – and I love it. I even admire, just a little, the Druid who trusted me enough to wait until I was ready. Thanks, D.

This was for Prompts for the Promptless at Queen Creative: Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Check out these other “Broken” prompts:

The wall

D: A? A, where are you? Why is it so dark in here? What’s going on? Why is my voice echoing? Mommy, hold me!

A: Chill, D. I’m here.

D: Good heavens, woman! Don’t do that to me.

A: Ha! Didn’t know you could jump that far, Druid.

D: I didn’t jump . . .  I was practicing my calisthenics.

A: Do you even know what those are?

D: . . . they have something to do with vigor and attempting to assuage your sedentary bodies now that you no longer hunt for your food.

A: Fair play, D. Speaking of. . .

D: Oh no you don’t. Where did you go? Why was it dark and more than a little creepy up here?

A: Are you telling me that you’re afraid of the dark? The big bad Druid, the man who made old gods real? The wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey master who is tying my brain into knots with his plot holes is afraid of the dark?

D: Does it make you feel better to think so?

A: . . . yes.

D: All right. I will fall on my sword for the greater good. It won’t be the first time.

A: And if there is a god in the heavens—

D: Oi! No wishing for my death. I was speaking metaphorically.

A: And I wasn’t?

D: No.

A: You know me too well, D.

D: {Sob} I know!

A: Well, if that’s all, I think I will-

D: Not so fast, woman. You are avoiding the question.

A: No, I’m avoiding the answer. You’ve already asked the question.

D: . . .

A: I went nowhere. I went everywhere. Despite having to re-write four chapters over the last two days, I am thisclose to finishing book 1 but hells-bells, D–

D: A, I’m a Druid. I don’ t do hell.

3u5ov3

. . . Yeah, D. Listen to Capt. Jack.

A: I would soooo beg to differ. Your shenanigans have my brain twisted all around and inside out. It hurts, D. Stuffing the plot holes alone is giving me brain cramps. So, I evacuated the land of the socially functioning and bypassed much of the rest of the world for a few days. This is my sole come-up-for-air moment.

D: I’m sorry, A. I really am. That’s a nice word, too, shenanigans.

A: What’s wrong with you?

D: What do you mean?

A: You never like my words. And you said you’re sorry. Oh my god, are you dying?

D: We’re all dying A – it’s simply a matter of time.

A: I hate you.

D: No you don’t, A. You’re tired and I think you’ve hit the proverbial wall.  And to answer your question, I’m not the D you know now. I’m an older, relaxed version of myself who has gone through the publishing process with you. We’re going to have great fun, A. Just you wait and see.

A: God, why do you do this to me?

D: Wibbly wobbly, A. Wibbly Wobbly.

A’s telling the tale tonight, Baby!

Actually I’m not because I have no tale to tell – and neither does D. Side effect of writerly-hibernation: we have no idea of what’s  going on.

D: Speak for yourself, woman.

A: Pardon?

D: I happen to know that Dean, of Dean’z Doodlez won Green Embers’ contest.

A: Oh?

D: Yes. And Charles not only has some incredible news about Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, but he’s also funny. You should take pointers, A.

A: I’ll consider it–

D: Then there is Helena’s twisted associate, Jessica Bell, who has begun a delightfully creepy series, the Bayou Bonhomme Serial, which everyone should check out.

A: Indeed. Is there more?

D: Of course. Andra’s tribute to her father’s birthday month, as well as his rather ingenious acquisitions is heart-warming and charming.

A: As is her style.

D: And finally, even though you like the man, I’d like to congratulate Ms. Melissa Janda for saying what we all think: Hemmingway can sometimes be boring, confusing and oh yeah, a drunk.

A: I don’t think she said that, D. She was talking about the ‘rules’ of writing that Hemmingway breaks with reckless—

D: Drunken.

A: Abandon as he sets out to tell a tale of the Lost Generation. I’d think you’d appreciate that, D. Besides, Hemmingway’s comments on the state of one’s first draft are, I find, spot-freaking-on.

D: You’re just mad because you don’t understand time travel.

A: (Whimper).

D: Now, where were we? Ah, yes: I encourage you all to visit The Community Storyboard, where new artwork – courtesy Dean of Dean’z Doodlez– graces the space, depicting the twelve editors  in their superhero guise. Very well done, Dean.

A: And while you’re there, take a moment to read some of the fantastic work – and even consider submitting some of your own!

The Druid Tells the Tale, Again

no eyes2If you’ve been watching this space and following along, you probably know that A is experiencing some angst over the fact that her attitude towards me, and the story I’m telling through her, has changed.

Really, what she’s annoyed at is that I made her cry.

Personally, I think it serves her right. I may be cantankerous. I may have an ego – when you make myth reality and travel between this realm and faerie, try not letting it go to your head. I may even be bossy and domineering. It’s called having a commanding presence; I did lead men into war, after all.

As penance for all of my perceived flaws, I languished in that fevered place she calls a brain for more than 10 years. I’m the one that had to put up with that feeble attempt she called writing my book – the third book in the series. Gods, you have not seen drivel until you have seen that draft. I hope she burns it.

While I was at the mercy of her guest bloggers (very well done, all of you. Truly, it was a pleasure. And no, I don’t bother to damn with faint praise), A had a breakthrough. She allowed me to tell my tale. And she wept.

I celebrated.

Getting A to acknowledge feelings is akin to wrestling with an ornery alligator. It rarely ends well. Perhaps there is hope for her yet. Usually the aftermath is far more gruesome than a week of low word-counts and a post on moping.

I’ll tell you what is truly wrong with her: she let me out of her head and isn’t quite certain how to make me go back in.

She’ll never figure it out, of course; I’m not going back in.

I’ve tasted freedom. She’s felt my story in her gut, and I intend to make her sit up and pay attention, write my bloody story and publish it, too. She’ll write more on this tomorrow, I’m certain. However, just in case she starts trying to hide what’s really going on with flowery language and big words (a sin of which she accuses me, the harpy), here you have it from the Druid himself.

In other notable news, please head over the Community Storyboard and read the delightful work generated for the 30-day Creative Writing Challenge. Day One was a fairy tale retelling. I will say that there are quite a few grand retellings. A submitted Headless, an American Fairy Tale. It’s charming. It isn’t about me, but it is charming.

Finally, it is my pleasure to tell you that the very talented Helen Valentina has published her book, The Seed. Peruse her blog and allow her words to bring different worlds and emotions to life!

Updates, or why I fail at goals

female-writer-sepA: Get in the box, D.

D: But–

A: Stop stalling, D, and get in the box . . . please.

D: But I am claustrophobic.

A: Not even that nice shiny blue one?

D: A, I am a time-travelling Pictish warrior-prince and Druid, not a time-travelling alien with two hearts.

A: Killjoy.

D: Crabby.

A: Okay, okay. Please just sit there and be quiet. Can you manage that?

D: If I must.

A: You must. Cheers, D.

I am going to chat about goals. And how I suck at them. Some of my big goals, which I posted over at the Rome Construction Crew, include finishing Part 2 of the book by my birthday, maintaining a more paleo lifestyle because it made me feel better, developing a platform online for the books, and ultimately finishing the Book 1 in the series by the end of the summer. On Monday, I posted goals about how I wanted to write. And be productive. And write. And organize this blog a little differently. And write.

And, none of that happened. My birthday was three days ago (and a great friend held a party last weekend – I asked Green Embers to do a dedication to her… ask him to do one for you!), and Part 2 is still in pieces. I love the white potato so much it makes paleo look at me in horror (but I still try, because I do feel better). Completing the book by the end of summer? I can still do that. Maybe. As for my weekly goals: they died.

The reasons why are frivolous: it was a short week, I covered for a sick co-worker and had a birthday dinner that lasted later than anticipated, because my mother and I forgot to turn on the oven (hello, sangria). So, I failed at my goals.

And I’m going to celebrate.

Yup. Celebrate. I – like many – can be a little hard on myself. I worry. I over-compensate. D gets ornery and things generally don’t go as well as they could. While frivolous, my week conspired against achieving anything of note. By worrying about it, I helped the conspirators.

I read a post at Critical Margins earlier this week, about how even excellent writers are bad writers sometimes. Because that is what it takes to get the words out on the page. I loved it and completely identify. On days when I’m just not feeling it, but I’m sitting at the computer anyway, this is what I tell myself. Just write it. It’ll suck, but do it anyway. Get it out there; it’ll be okay. Then there are those times where I hammer at my brain and expect excellence, thus becoming my own worst enemy, which isn’t unique by any stretch. This was one of those weeks.

So today, I’m celebrating failure.

Because even in my failure, I did get the following accomplished:

  • I typed up my notes and scenes that I hand-wrote last week. In doing so, I drafted the highlights of the rest of Part 2 and set the tone.
  • I came to grips with the fact that Maureen gets to face her demons and come out the other side now, and Sean can progress in his turn. That means it’s okay for this part to be ornery. (I like that word, and will use it at least three more times. Maybe not in this post, but in some post, some time. I could do a treasure hunt for the blog… find the word “ornery” and win a prize: grumpy cat meme. It could work.)
  • I killed a darling. Not a character, but an idea that I really wanted to work, but just didn’t. Not this time, not for Sean and Maureen. And possibly not for anything, unless I really get my Irish on and get all maudlin about something.
  • I helped my son prepare for his “Highlights from Hamlet” performance, and found a make-your-own karaoke track for Rock of Ages’ “We Built This City/We’re Not Going to Take It” for another group performance during the school talent show. I couldn’t go to the show, so I’m happy I was able to help him.
  • I learned more about marketing and developing a platform from this great series hosted by Ionia at Readful Things Blog. Hey, wait, that was a goal! Yes!
  • I have done more creative work in the last two weeks than I have in the last 10 years. Well, not true – all I have

    Hush – One of the best Buffy episodes

    done for the last six months is write, but it’s been all Sean and Maureen (and D as Dubh/Dubhal/Declan) all the time. Now, I have a granny skinny dipping, ghost merpeople, Claude – my first work of fan fiction – and a short story that may find a place in the beginning of Part 2. That’s a whole new world of crazy that just opened up in my brain, and for that I have all of you – the RCC crew, The Community Storyboard, my fellow bloggers, and my son, who doesn’t mind when I flash him signs saying “Bug off, writing” so long as they have pictures from the Buffy “Hush” episode – to thank.

There you have it. At goal setting, I fail, but at living life in general, I’m okay.

D: You are a beautiful loser, A.

A: Thanks, D.

When in Rome

female-writer-sepD: What is this, A? Why am I in a box? Is this your idea of a joke – mad man in a box? I find your Dr. Who references to be very inappropriate. . . . A? A, where are you?

A: It’s just for a moment, D. I need to get something off my chest. I need to explain why I took to the blogosphere to exorcise – I mean celebrate – our wonderful relationship.

D: A? I don’t think I like where this is going, A.

A: Tough, Druid. Buck it up.

D: . . .

A: D is a figment of the imagination. I know this. The only problem: it’s not my imagination.

I gave him a place to play, yes. I’ve encouraged his growth, gave flourish to his ego, and even (gasp) appreciated his finer points and smoothed some of his rough edges. But he is not mine.

D was given to me over 13 years ago. The Irishman who would one day have the distinction of becoming my ex-husband read my book and said, “Sure, it’s great. (Liar.) But I see someone else in it.” He told me about D. He was a blond then, a Celt and a Druid. His eyes were still blue but he was actually far more taciturn and far more forbidding. He couldn’t stay in my head for 13 years and stay that way, though.

Hearing his description of D, I agreed. He had a place in the story and I went about writing it in. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t great, and I couldn’t read it without cringing in places. The story didn’t sit well with me, so I went to write another one.

It wasn’t until I was half-way through the outline that I realized that D had a place there, too; it was the tale of his beginning. I knew too that if this was his beginning, then he had his own story to tell, and lucky me, I was the one to tell it.

There was a problem, however: I didn’t like him much.

Worse than that. I couldn’t see him.

I’m a visual person. I watch a movie in my head when I read and I’m fascinated by the visual interpretations of books on screen, even if they are often semi-comic/tragic interpretations.  For me not to be able to see D was a big problem. His story is actually one I enjoy (even if he drives me crazy), and I felt like I let him and the story down.

Then, life got in my way. Not only that, but the world changed.

Facebook, twitter, ebooks – it exploded!

I had a website – 3 actually – back in the Angelfire days. One, as I mentioned in our “award” dialogue, was connected to NBC for a brief time. I chatted with Irish, Scots and Basque Nationalists and will never look at the Blue Bunny the same way again.

There are many similarities between that world and our own, but when you’ve been gone – working, raising a child, paying too much attention to the mundane details of life – getting back in the game is daunting.

But I knew I had to do it. I now work at a magazine publishing house. I know how this goes. I know I need to make myself marketable. But I’ve struggled with how. For over a year I’ve been exploring my own brain (scary place) and wondering just how to market myself when asking an avid train enthusiast to buy the latest “Railroad Maps” special issue makes me cringe.

How can I do that when the foundation for my books ticks me off and remains elusive?

So, ten years passed without a word written. Rather, I wrote, but on conservation subdivisions, water gardens and the economics of land conservation. I blocked D off. I ignored him. Friends called, said they were dreaming about D, and could I please write something, maybe?

I tried. I had inspiration. I blocked out the new outlines for a revised Book 1 & 2 that made sense, outlines that seemed right.

But I couldn’t write them.

I didn’t understand, but I knew that one day, I would. I let the frustration go, and just let it be.

Then, it was TC’s birthday. We celebrated his birthday and the world not ending by going to a movie. It was lovely; I still listen to the soundtrack. Every day. My nearly-teen son teases me. I still listen.

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

After the movie, I had my celebratory glass of wine (or rather my I-survived-20-hrs-of-labor-and-100-extra-pounds glass of wine). I started thinking about D and the story (because not a day went by in 10 years that I didn’t think about D and the story), and the movie.

And there he was.

In all his glory. It slapped me across the face, gave me goose bumps and made me pay attention.  He had a face. He had a voice. He had a presence that I could see and understand. He was mine. He had marinated in the morass that is my mind long enough, and he was mine.

And so I wrote. I wrote and I blew through the 3-chapter barrier. As we neared the end of part 1, re-writing the entire thing as we went, I realized that the camaraderie I had built with D was something ‘else.’

It might even be something others might enjoy.

Something marketable.

Something that wasn’t me exactly, but was the story, was D, and was faintly entertaining in its own right.

So I blogged. And amazingly, I loved it! I still think Twitter may be Dante’s 8th circle, but it’s kind of fun. I even think I could have another blog (more on that later. . . I might also be crazy!).

My trouble is staying on task, focusing. I need to maintain a healthy disregard for D, otherwise these posts may become a bit of a love-fest, and that’s no fun! I also need to write Part 2, which is hard because I’m not a rabid nationalist anymore. I’ve switched sides, become Sean and I think I might have to OD on Braveheart in order to do Maureen’s idealism justice. The rest of the story is lovely and it’s spinning itself together in a way I had never before considered. I can’t wait to get there.

And then there is D. We do chat. He has a nice baritone, so conversing is lovely. It’s not that I dislike him anymore – I have a very healthy respect for him – but honestly, try living with an overbearing Scot with an ego as big as he is old. Respect, entertainment – it all goes flying out the window eventually.

This is why I’m in Rome. This is bigger – so much bigger – than I had anticipated. But I want to do it. I want to tell the tale and I want to be marketable. D is my brand. Having the support of like-minded people is incredible. And I am so thankful to be a part of the Rome Construction Crew.

D: So, if I’m your brand, does that mean you’re going to stop talking soon?

A: Yes, D – get ready to shine!