I’m used to procrastinating.
I often decide to sit down to write and then take about ten minutes before getting my butt on the chair. (It’s always a chair – I tried once to sit on the floor, leaning against the sofa with my laptop, but I realised I couldn’t write for more than ten minutes before my shoulders started to wonder why on Earth they’d been placed is such an uncomfortable position.)
What I hadn’t experienced before was procrastinating in the middle of a writing session, as I was about to put a character through a difficult situation.
For the last x years (I’ve lost count), I’ve been writing out a cozy mystery. And I say “writing out” because that’s what it feels like. It’s cominut out through writing it out. At some point it will be shaped into a structured piece of writing that can be called a first draft, and the editing will begin. Then I’ll feel like I’m writing.
For now, I’m writing out.
This morning I came to the point where the main character had to do something that would have a big impact on her life. And it was just before starting to write that out, that the procrastinating started.
I didn’t want to put her though the pain!
I began thinking about a disagreement I’d had the day before with someone. My mind started having a conversation with them, what I would say, what they would reply, what I would think about the whole things six months for now. Five minute went past. I got up, had a look around the kitchen, checked my phone… until I realised what I was doing.
I was about to show my character deciding whether to click a mouse button or not. After following her boyfriend to another country, and living basically as a housewife there for six months, she’d suspected he was hiding something from her. One evening, home alone, she pulled up the login page of his personal email provider, guessed his password and looked through his inbox.
She found a message from a mutual friend. With the subject line, “Hey, gorgeous!”.
Enough to get her to the point of thinking, “If I click here, that’s my life as I know it, over. Nothing will ever be the same. Point of no return.” (Don’t worry, I haven’t included all those clichés…)
And I didn’t want to do it.
I didn’t want to land her there.
And so, I procrastinated.
I did get back to the story and let her click on the message. That storyline is not the main plot anyway, it’s back story (the main plot is around investigating a murder, as it’s a cozy mystery). So there’s no point in building suspense for too long, and the reader knows anyway about the eventual break up.
I must say, I enjoyed that.
I enjoyed that emotional connection with a character that made me, albeit subconsciously, want to stop writing before I made her unhappy.
Seeing as I’ve travelled into “the role of the subconscious arena”, here’s a quote by Natalie Goldberg in “Writing Down the Bones”. It’s always nice to end with a quote.
“Your unconscious and your conscious selves meet, recognise each other, and become whole. This is art.”