Wow. I had no idea Viv was anything like that at 19. Never saw it coming!
The quote above is not a beta-reader’s comment about my work-in-progress of The Stealth Lovers. Those are my words. Yeah, I know. But, but, but … how can an author react like this when she’s the one writing the story? Beats me, but my characters tend to surprise me all the time.
Hey, I would love to stand tall and haughtily proclaim, “Why yes, I planned every word of this rom-com space adventure right from the beginning!” Then after I recovered from the lightning bolt that struck me unconscious, I’d have to admit the truth. I somehow split in two when I write, leaving me partly the author and partly the reader. Most times I can’t even feel myself driving the plot. It’s like my fingers do the typing while my eyes just absorb all the drama and comedy of the page. I’ve said many times, “Where does Xax come up with all that sass?” That would be you, Cait. You wrote the words. “But Cait, it doesn’t feel like I did. I swear, Xax says it all himself!” Cait, Cait, we’ve been through this before. It’s still you.
I’m not convinced. Because Xax and Viv are real, dammit.
There is something about diving into the creative process that is such a necessary escape. As a spoonie, I need to get away from reality on a regular basis. What I love about writing is that when I’m ready to return to my regularly scheduled life, there is this tangible thing I’m left with I can read over and over again. And because I live with a disability that requires so much of my attention, plunging into my manuscript releases me from control. Whatever it is exactly that my brain does, I find myself being taken on a journey where somehow I’m not thinking, but just responding to impulses that make me write the narrative and dialogue. I ride those nudges without questioning them, and end up stunned at the results. Then I get kind of proud that I did a thing! And I did it without hyper-planning it within an inch of its life.
By letting go to where the story wants to bring me, I become delighted with it, laughing or crying as if someone else had given me their book to read. My reactions are rather pure for someone who is responsible for the words. I like this, and don’t want to change my process … even though I can’t exactly pinpoint what the heck it is. I’ll just nickname it The Bystander Effect.
I love chapter titles. They’re my thing. So, often I’ll make up a title, like, Vacay in Hay (hay is short for an unpronouncable word meaning hell on Xax and Viv’s planet). I know the chapter has to be about basic training, but I have zero clue what the scenes will look like. Perhaps my process is to give myself writing prompts. Like, “Okay, Cait, Vacay in Hay … and … GO!” Then I begin to type, and the bystander in me soaks up what’s happening. I have to admit, it’s fun!
Anyway, if you follow me on social media and read posts about The Stealth Lovers that say things like: “I can’t believe what happened!” and “Holy crap, I hate the author for making me cry!” you’ll know that’s just me working through my stuff. The Reader Me is just a bit freaked out at Author Me.
Can anyone relate? Do you sometimes find yourself swept away by your own stories taking a direction you never anticipated? Let me know! Leave a comment on this post or on my social media accounts.
Whatever your process is, I wish you happy writing and afterwards—a highly satisfied reading of your own words.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a comedic space opera where boy meets girl, but girl doesn’t notice boy because she’s sharing a body with another boy. She is also the creator and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. You can follow Cait on Facebook and Twitter.