When I write a book, I immerse myself into the character’s minds. In order to write them authentically I have to become them. I have to understand them on a deep and intimate level. During the course of writing a book, I get to know everything about my characters. Sometimes after an intense writing session, it can be hard to get back to reality. The characters stay with me, speaking in my head, residing in my heart, pumping through my veins. Their emotions, their fears, their experiences become my own and it can be difficult to shake it off. To remember where they end and I begin.
This has been challenging when I’ve written my darker stuff – like Break Free, Break Through and Cuts Run Deep. Aspen in Break Through was probably the hardest. Since I had to write her experiences in captivity, I often had nightmares and fear I couldn’t explain. Jackson in Cuts Run Deep was equally difficult for me. Trying to delve into the depth of his despair was heartbreaking. I found myself crying for no reason, feeling depressed even though I knew I wasn’t. I was just taking on his feelings and emotions. It is a daily struggle for me to navigate through what is real and what is fiction.
But many times my characters deal with things I am dealing with in real life. Often they struggle with my struggles, they process the things I’m trying to process myself. Currently I’m writing FOR THE SAVE, which is the last book in my Playing for Keeps series. This book is about Sawyer and Addison, and if you’ve read FOR THE RUSH, then you’re familiar with these characters. Both Sawyer and Addison are very tragic characters. They’ve endured something traumatic and are struggling to deal with it. Because of that they are extremely lonely.
And that’s an emotion I can relate to. Loneliness is a human condition. We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. Some more than others. Loneliness can be a physical thing – we’re lonely because we are alone. But sometimes it’s mental – we are lonely even though we are surrounded by people.
I have experienced both. And I’m currently in a season of extreme loneliness. Not surprising since I spend a lot of time alone. Every day I sit in front of a computer screen, sifting through the lives and minds of fictional people. Basically I’m a grown up with imaginary friends. Now, I’m not saying I don’t have real friends, but for the better part of my day I’m alone.
But it goes deeper than that. Lately, I even feel alone when I’m with others. I think there’s something innate in all of us. This desire to be understood and to understand. When we find someone who understands us on a deep level, a connection happens that makes us feel whole. Makes us feel less alone. That’s something that I haven’t come across very often in the last few years.
Don’t get me wrong. It happens. But not as often as I’d like.
Part of that is my fault. Because of my crazy, active imagination, and the playground that is my mind, I do retreat into myself a lot. It’s something I have to fight against. And I have been lately. I’ve been making some changes in my life to get myself out of my house, and out of my head a little more.
But all of this has helped me write Sawyer and Addison authentically. They are two lonely people, but they understand each other.
There is a song by the Civil Wars that is perfect for them. Part of it goes like this:
Let me in the walls, you’ve built around
And we can light a match and burn them down
And let me hold your hand and dance ’round and ’round the flames
In front of us
Dust to dust
You’re like a mirror, reflecting me
Takes one to know one, so take it from me
You’ve been lonely
You’ve been lonely, too long
We’ve been lonely
We’ve been lonely, too long
The connection between Sawyer and Addison is healing. I’m excited about their journey. And I’m excited about mine. They are teaching me and guiding me. We are learning together.
And if you’re feeling lonely, know that you’re not alone in this journey. I know how you feel. I understand.