Mon. Feb. 4: Defining What Love Means to You (and Your Characters) #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 4, 2019
New Moon

We throw around the word “love” in relation to items or people with which we barely have a relationship. So what does “love” mean to you?

It’s going to mean something different to different people. There are also different types of love: I love my friends differently than I love my cats than I love my writing than I love my family than I love my romantic partner. Yes, they all fit into the “love” category, but the sensations are different and the ways I bring different types of love out into the world are different.

Having a basic “love for humanity” is different than a love relationship with an individual (at least to me).

For me, love is about a deep, layered connection that manifests differently in different situations. It means putting the other first where appropriate (unless it becomes unhealthy, in which case one can’t use “love” as the excuse to remain in a toxic situation).

To me, it does not mean martyring myself to gain control over someone else.

I do love my writing. It expands me, fulfills me, gives me a reason to keep going every day. It is how I understand the world, how I make sense of it. Through stories, characters, words.

I love my friends. I value them, I treasure them. I am willing to go the extra mile for them on multiple levels. I trust them with tender emotions, and I keep confidences and remain loyal — even during rough periods when others flee because of what strangers “think.” My friends and I have history and shared experience. Especially friends I’ve made on shows — anyone not on that particular production will have different frames of reference.

I value and cherish the friends I make online, but if I don’t have actual life experience with them, “love” (for me) is an inappropriate word. There are people that I interact with online daily or almost daily. But I’ve never met them; even if we share confidences, it’s different than sitting across the table from each other, or visiting a museum together or working on a project together. I feel affection and warmth and want to protect them and help them — but I’m doing a disservice if I call it “love.” For me, I have to have the tangible factor as well as the emotional factor.

“Falling in love” for me, has multiple facets. It’s the attraction and the excitement and the warmth and the laughter and the companionship and the sex — but there also has to be a sense of building, of being able to make a journey together, of giving each other emotional and physical breathing room. If it doesn’t grow in multiple directions, if it’s not an ever-changing, growing sense of layered commitments and interactions — not going to work. I’ve never been willing to settle for long — and the older I get, the less I’m willing to settle at all. My definition of partnership is very different than many other people’s. It’s not a judgment on them and their needs, because it’s about their lives. While I am willing to compromise on certain things, I am no willing to capitulate on others. I learned, the hard way, that it is far lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be alone.

Besides, as I writer, I need a lot of solitude. I can’t be with someone who is all over the place, needs constant stimulation and noise.

Our needs and desires change over the course of a life. We have to be aware of them, in tune with them, and honest about them. We have to strike the balance between self-care (which just happens to be last month’s topic) and martyrdom.

That sounds like I believe in order to write fully-rounded characters, we need to have hit a point of self-enlightenment most of us only dream about.

What’s great about creating characters and stories and situations is that we can experience how a variety of individuals define love, define partnership, become self-aware. They are not us; they are themselves, when we do our jobs properly. But we inhabit them while we write them, so for that period of time, we are them, and we can experience the world through their eyes and hearts.

That can help us define and decide what we want and need in our own lives.

We live vicariously through our fictional characters in early drafts of the books. Then we step back and meld the craft with the art and the emotion.

As human beings, we take what we learn from the creative process, and apply what works for us in our lives, and step out of the characters who are unhealthy.

It’s one of the reasons I love being a writer; I can live many lives, and yet still maintain a core integrity. I can also learn from other writers’ works, see worlds and experience lives through their characters eyes and souls, and come away as a better person. There’s an intimacy in reading that is very different from WATCHING a production. Reading is more internal; it touches the soul – and the heart – in a different way.

Great art (in any discipline) makes it possible for me to love more and love better.

This is why what we do is so important. Why the love we feel and bring to our creative process and then share with the audience is so vital to the overall well-being of humanity.

Our love matters.

 

Published in: on February 4, 2019 at 6:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Sept. 30, 2013: Learning From the Best

Monday, September 30, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

Lots of writing this weekend. I did the pieces for Confidential Job #2 and sent them off; started work on the article for the new editor; worked on the short story for the anthology, worked on the grant proposal.

I also have an idea that formulating. It’s still a bit beyond my reach, like grabbing for mist. The more I work on it, the more I think it’s tied to another idea I’ve been playing with.

The short story is a lot of fun, but requires a huge amount of world-building. I mentioned that on social media and got a snarky message about how it’s not “worth” doing massive world-building for “just” a short story. Of course it is, if I want the story to work.

It’s set in a different world. That world needs to be created. What is normal for the characters has to feel normal, what causes the conflict has to be unique. All of it has to be rendered in a sensory manner to make it immediate for the reader.

And, the more I work on the world, the more I think it’s the same world as those two formulating ideas, although, at this point, I don’t see character cross-over.

Just want to take a moment to talk about the series finale of BREAKING BAD. It was thoroughly satisfying, while not pulling any punches. Vince Gilligan remained true to himself, true to his characters, and fulfilled the promise and the contract he had with his audience. People who want to write good television can learn a lot from this guy. I’m not giving any spoilers — go watch it for yourself. It’s worth it.

A lot to get done today, so I better get going!

Devon

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 7:30 am  Comments (2)  
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