As I read my first written novel I feel a strong mix of emotions.
My first reaction is, “This could be fixed, this should have been worded differently, and what was I thinking when I wrote that- I should have elaborated- I could have done a lot with that scene…”
That is the critical part of me. An artist finds every flaw in their own work, right? That’s what I keep telling myself. I bite my lower lip and continue reading, hoping that I feel the same passion for my characters that I do when I write about them.
My emotional part then takes over and I feel sheer joy. I get butterflies in my stomach as I read about Evan and Norma and their budding relationship. I get excited thinking about where I’m going to go with them in the future. My heart flutters with anticipation of writing more about their blossoming love. I feel dedicated and protective of my characters, knowing that they are only a figment of my imagination, they are also a part of myself. From the strong-willed but kind of sweet- pig-tailed lady named, Barbie, to the innocent man with the teddy-bear, a genuinely decent rich older fella named Gary, to the whiney Mitch, disgusting Miles, dry- business oriented Larry, flirty UPS driver and beloved friend, George, to the gorgeous cop- Evan Parker, the loyal but mischievous best friend, Rena, to the beloved, quirky, hilarious Norma Nudle- all of them are a part of me and I enjoy writing about them.
At times they feel like friends. I smile warmly when I talk about a girl named, Norma Nudle. I know her, she has a personality and a face, she’s me, but she’s also not me. It feels like a strange phenomenon, like I have an imaginary friend that I have a face and name for- something similar to ‘Drop Dead Fred’.
I know some artists lose their self in their work. How naked does a ventriloquist look without their puppets? Very. They feel naked too. Each puppet has their own voice and style. This is the same as the writer’s characters. They’re real people- we see them, smell them, we know them in every sense of the word. There are times when I’m driving down the highway and I see something and I will say to myself, “Norma would love that!” I then make sure I scratch it down on paper, so I remember to write about it later. Writing is a way of life, not just a job. It’s a part of my soul- writing is constantly a part of me- It’s 24 hours a day. I write and invent in my sleep. I often wake up excited and jot things on paper. My mind is constantly going. I’m never without my characters- just like that ventriloquist. In some sense, I think every artist is the same that way. Every visual artist I know shows up with paint on their shoes, arms, hands, clothing, somewhere. It’s inevitable. The paint became a part of them.
I read my book and feel proud. Like I’ve grown. I see me gaining maturity as a writer. I see mistakes I’ve made and have learned not to repeat them. I feel happy that I’ve come so far, but I also feel like I have a long way to go. As I experience this journey I am grateful for those who follow along with me, sharing with me in my growth and development as an artist. I feel so much gratitude, in combination with faith and humility. For that, I am so grateful.