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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Night Musings

It's late. As I write this it's a little after 11:30PM and I'm thinking to myself "Wait, I just said it's late? I used to stay up to 2, 3 in the morning no problem!" But that was well over a year ago. I haven't regularly clocked those kind of numbers in a long, long while.

Tonight though I did decide to throw caution to the wind and just indulge. Why?

I spent three hours writing depressing stuff today. It was needed. It had to be done for the character and certainly the backstory has cleared up his motivations and reasoning for a lot of things. It was totally worth it as far as what I got out of it.

But it was really quite heartwrenching... I've tortured characters in a lot of ways since I took up this writing thing over four years ago. I'm put them through personal and literally hells. I've hurt them physically, emotionally, and on levels that have yet to be discovered (like the 8th dimension-everyone knows there is one but it just hasn't been found yet).

I mean, I've been given the title "King of Character Torture" on the writing forum I frequent. It's a pretty long, nasty list of things I do to characters.

But today I did something I very rarely do when I torture characters: I felt bad... like, really felt it. It's not often that happens. I'm a pretty callous dude when it comes to writing torture. I take pleasure in it sometimes, sometimes I just nonchalantly do it, but it's very rare that I feel bad for the characters.

Worse than feeling bad for the character I was writing today was what that feeling made me do: I got tears in my eyes as I wrote his stuff. It was heartwrenching in the worst way and maybe it was because it mirrored reality a little too close. I have a tendency (like all authors to some extent) to write what I see, what I observe, in life.

I try to make it not so blatant where I'm basing certain characters and story arcs on... I do my fair share of mixing and matching. I try to channel my limited (very limited) experiences and the experiences people have so graciously told me into my characters. Sometimes it works to great effect. Sometimes it falls flat.

Today, it worked-on me anyway-to great effect. I was writing a character whose mother had left his father when he was 13. The character, he was young, going through those teenage years... and then his mother split. Yesterday morning, I had no plans whatsoever to make his mother even remotely sympathetic. Why?

Well, this character's experience was based off a good friend of mine's experience in high school. When the crap hit the fan, it left him a wreck... it left his dad a wreck... and I had no love for my friend's mother after that. She had caused him so much pain, why did she deserve any sort of sympathy at all? She got none from me. It's been one of those things I've held onto for years... if I could only see her again the things I'd say to her.

But that's likely never going to happen. So, when taking this experience and grafting it onto my character, that feeling of hatred (too strong a word? I don't think so...) asserted itself with my character's mother. She was going to follow that same script as my friend's mom... just up and leave, and when she did things would spiral out of control.

Yesterday morning, that character's backstory was only three thousand words. Fast forward to 2PM today and that backstory was standing pretty at a little over twelve thousand words. Total time for all that... about seven hours, give or take a chunk of twenty minutes. Pretty good pace (not my best but close).

I discovered something these past two days while writing that character's mom... that hatred I had for my friend's mom, once so strong and so rooted in me... it was a hatred seen through a child's eyes. When things hit the fan back in high school, well... we were in high school. We didn't understand the world. Heck, the world was just something on TV for us then.

But this event was over seven years old now. Things were different now with me and with him... we've both moved on in life and we've both grown. I mean, he's married and I'm... not (let's not get distracted, shall we?). But life has changed us both, a lot, since those days.

The hatred I had for his mother and the my character's mother... over the course of the last two days has melted away. In it's place? Understanding.

I think, after years of trying, I get why his mom left his dad. The revelation is saddening for me... depressing even. I had it all wrong, I think. I painted her with one brush and one color, refusing to consider the multifaceted aspects of marriage... life... a family.

I'm still learning those aspects. I will always be learning those aspects even when/if I get married and have a family of my own. It's a never ending process.

But today was a day where that process took a big leap forward I think. There are so many things that go into a marriage, a life, and a family, isn't there? We tend to think of the family unit as, just that, a unit. But it's not just a unit... there are individuals in that unit and often times those individuals aren't aware fully of what the other ones are feeling.

We're not all Borg you know... not linked to a hive mind and aware of everything going on with everyone else. (Obligatory Star Trek reference made, happy?) 

So, with my friend's mom, I get the possible reasons why she left his dad... why she left my friend at probably the worst time you can leave a kid (those teenage years are a minefield). Through writing my character's mom, I better understood the possible reasons behind the leaving... maybe none of them apply to my friend's mom. Maybe she was the nasty person I made her out to be all these years. I somehow doubt it though.

There are no such things as "bad guys" in the real world. People who do bad things? Sure. But stereotypical "bad guys" don't exist... everyone has their motivations and in their minds, those motivations are right. The consequences of our actions can never be fully anticipated. Even the best of us screw up on a daily basis.

Which brings us back to why I threw caution to the wind tonight. I was pretty depressed from the character torture I inflicted on my poor character (and his mother and father). I was nearly brought to tears. It's certainly not the most disturbing or torturous thing I've ever written... but it made me feel for my character for the first time in a long time.

So, being in the depressed state I was in (and realizing today was Wednesday, I can undo the damage tomorrow), I put on a movie and indulged. A lot. One bag of popcorn, some ice cream, two bowls of oatmeal, two glasses of green tea and a heap full of regret later, and I was done.

Great movie. Bad food choices on my part but I felt like I needed it.

Okay, I didn't need it that much but there's an ulterior motive to giving into my moody eating habits.

I need to sleep. People, I don't know if you've realized this, but I have not slept well in a week. It's been over a week since I got eight solid hours of sleep. I've been living off five, six hours of sleep for days on end. My body is all kinds of off and each morning brings a new minor pain to add to the other minor pains I've accumulated over the last week.

I'm not at 100%. Probably more like 70% really. I'm getting by and right now, that's okay. But this can't last. My limits will be reached sooner rather than later.

I've tried medicine but got no love. I've tried going to bed early but I'm sabotaged by my brain. I've tried boring myself to sleep but I don't get bored... there's always something going on in my head.

So, I gave myself three options to resolve this tonight. Either I was going to stay up all night and attempt a reset (but I was pretty tired already), drink myself into oblivion (but I'm not a drinker... and I have no idea how hard or easy it is to reach oblivion for me), or put myself into a food coma.

I chose option three, food coma. My depressed state, my hours of heartwrenching character torture, had given me the perfect opportunity to justify screwing up tonight on purpose. Now... the question is whether it will work. The answer? Probably not as seeing everything else so far has failed but we'll see.

To be honest though, the depressed state really helped cement tonight's actions. I'm a moody eater and if I get too deep into my characters (which has been the case for... well over a week now), the wheels start coming off the wagon. Tonight, the wheel to fall off was food choices.

Am I disappointed? Sort of. I'll be more disappointed tomorrow if I don't sleep well. Then all of it would seem to be a waste.

At any rate, it's 12:30 in the morning now and officially Thursday. I'm going to try and go to bed.

Thanks for reading folks. Good... well, morning. ;)

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