Recently, members of Faith, Hope & Love — the inspirational/Christian fiction chapter of Romance Writers of America — were discussing the voices we hear in our heads and how nice it is to be among other writers because they don’t think we’re nuts. (Of course, we mean hearing voices in a creative sense; if you’re really hearing voices, seek professional help!)
I would venture to say that most novelists, when they were children, were able to entertain themselves for hours on end without the need for television or radio or even books, although most of us escaped into books for hours, too. Our imaginations took us to other countries, other worlds, in an instant. Me, I was most often a wild stallion, thundering across the vast Western mountain country.
Back to those voices…
Some writers I know visualize their stories. They see the scenes playing out in their minds, just as if they were watching it on a movie screen. Some writers hear the story as if the characters were dictating it to them.
Neither of those apply to me. I’m a “gut instinct” writer, and the only way I can describe my creative process is to say I “feel” the story. I feel it in my gut, that spot just below where your rib cage meets. Yeah, right there. Maybe that’s why my characters seem so real to me. Because I feel what they are feeling, because I know them on the inside. I empathize with them and the things they are experiencing.
Many years ago, I went to the lumberyard with someone to buy wood for a new fence. The old truck didn’t have a muffler, so the noise in that cab was deafening. Unable to hold a conversation in that din, I let my thoughts drift to the story I was working on at the time. By the time we arrived at our destination, I had become deeply engrossed in the lives of my hero and heroine (as things stood in the story), and when the engine was silenced, I immediately started talking about what was happening to this couple as if they were my best friends. I’ll never forget the look of confusion on the guy’s face. It was classic. Of course, it was a better look than when people’s eyes glaze over.
So, yes, I am very grateful for the other writers in my life who understand the quirks that go along with the creative mind. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who thinks like I think. Sure beats Prozac!
Now it’s time to end this entry and go see what my characters are up to today.