While touring for my first book, an older gentleman I knew sidled up to me to ask about my main character’s love interest. He said, “So who’s this Alex guy?” in a wink wink kind of way and it ruined me for writing for awhile.
Writing STAY wasn’t part of a master plan to be published. I was about seventy-thousand words in before I even admitted to myself I was writing a book, so I hadn’t thought through the idea of PEOPLE I KNEW READING SEX SCENES I WROTE.
“So, who’s this Alex guy?” and I stretched that question through to the implication that this person thought not only was Alex based on a real person, but that my main character then had to be me and. . . the hyperventilating came fast. After that, any time I sat down to try to write, those words would hijack my mind, bouncing around like the refrain to a terrible song: So who’s this Alex guy? So who’s this Alex guy? So who’s this Alex guy?
I started pre-editing my ideas, thinking through what people might think of me if I wrote them, which is a terrible way to write. No one wants to read a book about a character who sits quietly with her hands folded in her lap. And no one really wants to write one either. It’s not satisfying.
I’ve read a lot of writing advice in the “Think of your audience” vein. And I get it. When we’re writing books for other people to read, we have to remember to make them readable. We have to figure out how to reach the right people with our stories. Of course we do. And I consider my readers in the broad stroke choices I make, but then I have to stop doing that and consider my characters in the fine-tuned moments of their world. I need to forget that anyone will ever read what I’m writing, because even though it’s fiction, it has to come from a vulnerable place. That Alex guy is the product of my uninhibited mind and if I want to write more characters who seem like they’re real, I have to make sure they grow from the same kind of free thought.
But, how? [Read more…]