10 January 2014

After the Rush

The holidays are finally over. Decor is back to normal, guests have gone home, kids are either back at school or about to return to a college campus.  Some of us are exhausted, some of us are eager to return to a regular routine, and some of us are a bit depressed that all the excitement is over.

It's akin to when I've finished a manuscript and it's put to bed, proofed, galley-proofed, and about to be published. It's a bit of a letdown. All the work is finished, that sense of urgency to commune with the characters is done. Consummated, the courtship is over, the pact sealed. What next?

It reminds me of a wonderful song by the late Dan Fogelberg. A talent too soon taken from us, Dan had a great song called "Make Love Stay" about what happens once you've had your happy ending:

Moments fleet, taste sweet within the rapture
When precious flesh is greedily consumed
But mystery is a thing not easily captured
And once deceased not easily exhumed


Mystery is the key to a good story, the puzzle of how the conflict will be resolved. Characters who have become real to us can never be allowed to become too familiar--there should always be an element of unknown involved or they become stale and boring. I've seen this happen in a book series, where it's the same old situation repeatedly and the character becomes boring, predictable. It's hard work to keep that spark of surprise alive, keep a beloved character as refreshing and vibrant in book five as he or she was in book one. It's a challenge I enjoy, and throwing the monkey wrench of life's realities in allows a character to keep evolving, ever changing. Like relationships, it's work, but worth every effort.

Happy writing, 

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