Today as I was vacuuming I thought about Alice. Alice was a character I was trying to develop. She had quite a few rough blows. I just kept hitting her with one life altering change after another. I assume this is a common rookie writer fall back.
As I yanked my vacuum back and forth across my floor today, I found myself wondering, What happened to Alice? I wrote her into a dark corner and never offered her any rescue. Why did I do that to her? Where is she now? I thought maybe my readers wanted to see Alice triumph over her own self pity and save the world. I wanted to write about the power and resilience of the human spirit. I wanted you to feel touched and hopeful. I wanted this story to scoop you up and make you whole again. A little dramatic, I'll admit.
I got some feedback from a few fellow writers from write on edge. At first they felt sorry for Alice (which is exactly what I wanted) then they suggested Alice really needed to get up and dust herself off. I wanted that too. Really, I did. It's so very American of us to say, "Snap out of it Alice." Or as my mom would say, "Go wash your face and put on a smile."
The hard truth is I was in a place where saving myself was a daily battle, so throwing a rope down to Alice became an insurmountable task. Also, the romantic notion of the human spirit was quickly losing it's vigor. I wanted to shout back, but what if Alice can't overcome this? What if she's not strong enough? What if some challenges really are too hard? How would you like that story, huh? I drank this cynicism until it filled me, and I could have let it drown me. But it didn't. It didn't. I'm here now, for myself and I hope to be here for Alice. I hope she can can do it.