Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tornado Aftermath

We had a few twisters come through down the other side of town Sunday night. My mother had me on the phone every couple hours to see if I was still watching the news which is why my Monday post was so...short. I watched the news until almost 2am. The meteorologist here is a MA-NI-AC when it comes to twisters. Yes, what she does is important, yes, the information she gives is life-saving, literally, yes, she's very good at her job. But she's too damn gleeful. I swear to Gawd, she was going to pee her pants right there on tv when she said, "It's touched down in Lynwood!" "It's touched down in High Point!" I mean, really, don't be so happy you were right about the stupid wind. People lost their homes, thankfully no one lost their lives, and I heard there was only one broken bone among the 200.

Anyhoo -- I wanted to give a big fat Piedmont Welcome and Thank You to Rebecca, Judith, Hardymum, Terresa, Gina, Amanda, Cynthia, and Meika for joining in my little bit of insanity here. It's going to be 80 degrees this week and the pool will be officially opened on Thursday, so bring your suits, margherita mix and suntan lotion, we're all set. Sarah A. are you ready???

I also want to say Thank You to Nicole at One Significant Moment in Time for the Super Comments Award last week.

Also, Thank You to DL over at Cruising Altitude for the Super Scribbler Award.

And Thank You to Shelley Sly at Stories in the Ordinary for the Supportive Comments Award.

And yes, these came in a batch of three as well and I swore last week I wouldn't post about any new ones, and I didn't, but I do have to say Thank You. (My mother would be aghast if I didn't.) I will pass these on at some point over the next weekend.

As to my writing, gentle readers, well, let's just say it's not progressing as smoothly as I would wish. Small One is out of school this week, I have had a few days of illness, my mother got a puppy so I've been spending time over there trying to train said creature (why she got a dog is beyond me) and quite frankly I just haven't been in the mood to deal with Genna and Tony.

I'm right in the middle of their first big scene, I want it to be perfect and I'm scared it's not going to be. I know, I know, I can hear you all screaming, "Just write the damn thing and shut up about it!" But I can't. I don't think I'm blocked, I think I'm just actually scared. This is a very EMOTIONAL scene. There are a lot of pent up feelings, hers, his, theirs, that have been locked away for ten years. Ten years people. That's a lot of angst! I have to be in the mood to deal with all that. It's draining for me to write something like that. Narrative, fine, dialogue, usually no problem, setting, great, I can write like a fiend. But this, this is going to make me cry, I know it, it has to or it won't be any good. And part of the reason I can't seem to write it is because I'm actually in a pretty good mood. I have been for awhile and I don't want to bring myself down writing it.

So tell me gentle readers, the question for the day is -- Do you "feel" what your characters are going through? Do you have to be in the same emotional frame of mind to write what they're feeling?

35 comments:

Talli Roland said...

So glad to hear you're alright! Tornados - wow. Strangely there was a rogue one in London a few years ago and it will all we heard about for weeks. I can't imagine if it was a regular occurence.

As for the characters, no... generally, I would say I don't need to be in the same frame of mind (thanks goodness!). But when I'm writing I do certainly try to keep myself inside their head.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I'm glad you survived the night of twisters. :) And congrats on the awards.

It depends on what I'm writing whether I feel the characters or not. Usually not. :)

KarenG said...

No I don't have to be in that mood. But I do have to be able to CHANNEL that mood. Which is why I require complete isolation & silence & a large stretch of time when I'm writing creatively. Which can be very inconvenient.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Those meteorologists get a boner when the powers that be and Doppler 2 Radar announce the threat of Mother Nature's fury. In Atlanta, it's hilarious -- especially for a New Yorker, like me. Do you know we actually have a cloud forecast?? CLOUDS? What ev.

Of course, in New York the weather news includes what the weather was like during the past three hours. Why do I care what the weather was like? I want to know what it will be like. FOREcast!

Anyhoo, on to more important things. I do feel the angst my characters are feeling. As I'm writing and revising, I become increasingly immune to their emotions. But later when I pick the story up again with fresh eyes, it comes back. Funny, I posted an excerpt today from a memoir piece I wrote, and my chest was all tight as I read it. Crazy!

Piedmont Writer said...

Talli -- Tornados in London must have been an EVENT! I'm always in my characters heads' which is why I'm having so much trouble.

Sarah Jayne -- Thanks. Unfortunately I really like what I'm writing (written so far) so it's getting harder.

Karen -- I hear you on the silence and isolation. Monster baby is having none of it this week.

Nicole -- I miss my meteorologists from back home. They knew how to predict weather. And I hear you on the clouds!

Revising I become immune because I think of it more as work. It's the drafting and the editing process that gets me. I still can't read Masquerade without crying at certain spots.

Christi Goddard said...

I live in an area that is frequented by tornadoes, so I hear you when it comes to zealous meteorologists.

I try to feel what my charries are, but I don't let them react as I would or choose the decisions I would.

Summer said...

Glad the tornados didn't come knocking. We got double-teamed by an F-3 and F-1 when I was 7: lost our house, our cars, and my grandfather broke his leg in 3 places. Life changing event, and I still get nervous when thunderstorms get nasty. Actually, the 16-year anniversary of our tornado was on March 27.

I do have to be in a similar emotional state, which is why I usually *ahem* drink when I'm about to write certain scenes.

Piedmont Writer said...

Christi -- Yeah, that's what I'm having trouble with, putting THEIR reactions in instead of mine.

Summer -- Oh that's awful, you poor thing. My daughter was pretty freaked out too. They scared her in school so now she's really uptight when a storm comes around.

And I wish I could *ahem* drink when I needed to. And not only when I need to write a particular scene.

Falen said...

OOOH! What kind of puppy!

I hear you about the tornados. Every year i tell myself i'm going to buy a weather radio, and every year i put it off. I just need to do it so i can sleep at night without having to watch the weather.
And no, i don't overly empathize with my characters or need to be in the same state. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah -- An Australian Sheep dog who heards everything including my daughter who does not like to be led around. I don't know why they decided on that kind of dog, they don't have the lifestyle to train her. Which I suppose is where I come in.

Get a weather radio! Get a weather radio! Get a weather radio!

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah -- HERDS not heards. Jeesh, you would think I would have caught that one.

~Jamie said...

We got into our pool yesterday, and it was so so SO very cold. I'm not sure WHAT we were thinking, but I couldn't get the daughter out--I think they're stronger than we are. :)

Thanks for stopping by Elana's blog and reading my interview today!

Summer said...

Wow, an Australian Shepard? That's a lot of commitment.

And I'd ditto the weather radio. My mom has 3. :-)

She Writes said...

I often slip into feeling what they do, as I go. But, I generally write small pieces with one main character. Easy!

She Writes said...

PS The weather people here adore a devastating piece of news!

Tahereh said...

hey bestie!! eee on the tornados!!

(wanted to let you know i left you an award on my blog!!)

Simon C. Larter said...

Oh, yes. If you ain't tense when writing a tense scene, perhaps your scene ain't tense enough. And if you're writing a sad scene, and you ain't sad, your scene ain't sad enough. It's that whole empathy thing we writers have to have. Puts us through the wringer sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cynthia Reese said...

Ugh on the tornados, and yeah, I know EXACTLY what you mean about weatherpeople being so gleeful. Glad no one was seriously injured.

As far as feeling what my characters do, ack, yes, every time. Big scenes tend to put a lot of pressure on me, and sometimes, I find, when they're not working out or I don't feel confident in them, it's because I've got the perspective or the argument backwards.

For instance, in my first pubbed book (THE BABY WAIT), in the original version, I'd had the cheerful optimistic Heroine lose it, and her negative-nelly Hero finally decide to get with the pogram.

But that wasn't ringing true for me. Bam! It hit me (after I'd agonized over this and my editor had asked for revisions) that it was not in either character's personality to act like this. So, I had to go back, rip it apart and fix it.

That's when I got it right. (Well, hopefully anway). That's when it made me cry.

So write it, and give yourself permission as you do to not get it right. I don't -- more often than I'd like to admit. But at least I know then what WON'T work.

(oops. That was a sermon, wasn't it? Commence hitting myself)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh my word, I know this feeling all too well. I definitely get into my characters' heads. It can put me in a bad mood to write sad scenes. But you definitely just need to rip that bandaid off and get int there! You can do this! Let yoursef feel what they are feeling and make it the best scene possible, and then when it's over, let it go. Now get in there, chickie, and get this baby rolling!! :P

Jennifer Shirk said...

I do feel what my characters are going thru, which is one of the reasons I delay writing the "black moment" of the story. It kind of depresses me a little. :)

B. Miller said...

Sometimes I feel what they're feeling, sometimes not. The book I'm writing is very sad. I think it may be my subconscious's way of purging a lot of bad feelings stored up in my brain over the years. So maybe it's the converse... they're feeling what I used to feel. Now that I have this outlet, I've noticed a lot more happiness in my life.

Glad you didn't get hit by the tornadoes! I was in Lyman and saw the sky get pretty green, but didn't see a funnel cloud.

Piedmont Writer said...

Jamie -- anytime, and thanks for joining my little frenzy here!

Summer -- Yeah, my thoughts exactly for 2 retired old people. That's where I come in I guess.

Amy -- I wish this was small but it's not. It's going to be a long drawn out process.

Tahereh -- Thanks, I'll be by to pick it up in a bit.

Piedmont Writer said...

Simon -- I hear you on the empathy. Which is why I'm putting this off.

Cynthia -- Don't worry about the sermons, I do it all the time. I hear you on the "ringing true". My first book, the H/H had sex and I realized that if he truly WAS a gentleman he would never have compromised her. So I took out the sex and had a crazy make-out session instead. It worked for me. Don't know what the agent will think but I have to keep it true to the integrity of the story.

Carolina -- Well, we'll find out Thursday if it worked or not.

Jennifer -- That's where I am now, in the putting off stage. I'm in such a great mood I hate to spoil it.

Piedmont Writer said...

B. Miller -- This book is in a lot of ways very autobiographical although none of it happened, if that makes any sense, so I'm doing the same purge. It's crazy what we have to go through as writers.

arlee bird said...

Gosh durn it, temps supposed to go down by 20 degrees here in L.A. which will put us in the 60s -- actually I guess I prefer that.

I guess yes it helps to feel what my characters are feeling, or least to have felt that way before.

Have you heard about the April blog challenge? I'm gonna send it your way like one of those tornadoes.

I’d like to invite you and your readers to join us in a blogging challenge for the month of April. Check it out at Blogging From A to Z

Want to try it? Let me know and I'll add you if you want to take the ride with us.
Lee

E. Elle said...

Sharing their emotions definitely helps. I usually put on a selection of songs that I would equate with the emotions I need when I write the scene; it gets me in the right frame of mind and the writing flows a lot easier. Before I discovered this little trick, I would always bring myself down when I wrote because... well, I'm pretty brutal with them. (Hey, I never asked them to hire me. They did it on their own!)

Piedmont Writer said...

Arlee Bird -- Thanks for the invitation but I'm going to have to pass for now. I'll watch though.

E.Elle -- I tried the music thing but then I get way too side-tracked. I can only do one thing at a time.

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, scary stuff there. Glad you're okay.

And I think my writing is more authentic, more emotional if I'm in the same state. But I don't have to be there myself. I can imagine, especially if the right song is on.

Susan Fields said...

So glad to hear you're okay after the tornadoes! It doesn't bring me down to write downer scenes. If the writing's going well, it lifts me up, regardless of what's going on. I'm not a very emotional person (though my husband might disagree with that statement) - maybe that's why.

Lady Glamis said...

First of all, I'm so glad you are safe and unscathed!

Second, that's a good question. I used to think I had to be in the same frame of mind, but as I've honed my writing skills I rely on that less and less and just write.

Shelley Sly said...

Whew... I'm very glad that you're safe in the midst of those tornadoes. I would have been scared to death just knowing that there could be a tornado. (I've obviously never lived in a tornado area.)

Anyway, I don't think I have to be in the same frame of mind as my characters, but I do have to be in the right frame of mind to write in the first place. If I force myself to write, it comes out looking like that -- forced. But as far as emotions, I can usually just involve myself in whatever they're going through and forget about my own feelings for a little while.

Lola Sharp said...

First, I'm glad you are okay, love.

Secondly...Nicole 'said' BONER!!!

( ;o) I'm such a child. But that word always makes me giggle. I would have said 'wood' or 'hard on'...but I LOVE when people say boner! Leave it to Nicole to make me laugh even though I'm sick as a dog.)

I hope you are feeling better, illness-wise.

As for writing 'emo' scenes...Yes, I feel the mood. If I don't sob, then I didn't write it well enough.
Usually, I play a song that will get me in the zone, then I read through the passages leading up to the power scene, and then dive in.

Wish I was closer, and feeling good enough to drive down and really jump in that pool with you.

Love,
Lola

DL Hammons said...

I picked up on that too. Nicole should be ashamed for making me blush like that! LOL

Your most welcome for your award.

Keep dodging those Twisters!

Piedmont Writer said...

Elana -- See, I can't work with music on. Dont' know why. I need total silence. I guess it was because I was an actress a long time ago and need to 'prepare'.

Susan -- It will lift me up if I nail it. The hardest part for me is to do just that.

Glam -- I'm hoping that as I get to be a better writer it won't be so hard to be emotional. But then again, I am a drama queen.

Shelley -- I hope you're feeling better. Yeah, I didn't want it to be forced which is what I was afraid of. I think it came out okay though.

Lola -- Nicole said BONER! Yeah, I thought it was a misprint. How are you feeling? Better I hope. That's my whole thing too, I have to cry otherwise it's not good enough. It's only 6 hours from Jersey I think. *xoxo*

Piedmont Writer said...

Hey DL -- I know, doesn't she know I have MEN on this blog.