Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Losing My Characters

A funny thing happened on my way to finishing my latest book. My characters all packed their suitcases and trunks, donned their jaunty caps, and left. I haven't been able to bring them back into my thoughts for a few months now. Which means, of course, that I haven't been able to write anything. I just assumed that eventually my daydreams about them would come back and we would pick up where we left off, which was more than halfway through the next book, but Evelyn and her entourage are nowhere to be found. Have they grown tired or me? Have I grown tired of them? Or have I simply become too busy for an imaginary world? I think the last one is the most true.
There is also the sticky problem of having to hurt characters you love. I left the last book with Evelyn getting what she wanted and happiness being just on the horizon. And in order for there to be any plot in the sequel ... let's just say bad things have to happen. I have already worked out the main dilemmas for this book and the one or two that will follow, but I know that what happens is going to upset my readers. Now that I have released the first book into the universe and people other than me know who these characters are, it is harder for me to manipulate them because I feel the pressure and expectations on me not to harm those they love.
Because of the additional pressures and the fact that I have not written anything in months, the idea of running away seems very tantalizing right now. Which is why my finished but unpublished book about people fleeing for their lives, A Different Sky, is calling to me. I'm starting to think I should switch over to rereading and editing that book and worry about Evelyn's life when I am done with A Different Sky. But then I think maybe I'm just making excuses for why I don't have to dig back into Evelyn's story.
So, what do I do? Do I force myself to get back into the sequel to The Gathering Storm, or do I let it lie for a while and work on editing A Different Sky? Or do I, as I have been doing for months now, make no decision at all and simply make excuses while I continue to do nothing?
Any shove in either direction is greatly appreciated.

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