Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Character who Keeps Coming Back

The character who keeps coming back; most writers have them. The book that can’t or won’t be finished--there's at least one on every writer’s hard drive. My particular dark horse always returns in the first warm weather, this year occurring in March. Her sweet German nickname is Blumchen and she’s here again, sucking up my waking hours. Needless to say, I’m reediting and reimagining scenes and conversations I’ve visited many, many times. I’ve journeyed to this imaginary world regularly, at least once a year, since 1986.

A complete reworking doesn’t take place every year, at least not since the first decade. Blumechen's is the first book I ever completed, although a satisfactory ending, I think, still eludes me. Like Constanze of my Mozart’s Wife, this young heroine insists on speaking in the first person, which both narrows and deepens her POV. It’s like writing pinned inside her dress. What's more, she belongs to the cast of characters already familiar to readers who are interested in Mozart and his circle of musicians, dancers, con artists, noblemen, Masons, and various stage-struck hangers on.

I’ve heard authors talk about having a “channeling” experience with their characters. There are many tales of automatic writing and spirit dictation, which sounded at first as if they should be taken with great handfuls of salt. However, after the experience I have had in writing this old and perhaps never-to-be-finished novel, I know channeling does happen. Ordinarily it takes a period of work to make your character dolls start moving independently, but in this case, it appears I was the vessel chosen by a voice from the past. She wanted me to tell me about the events of a single, intense summer, and I've tried to give her my attention.  She came at night, during a time when I was still working in an office, and kept me awake for most of the night. As you can imagine, this eventually lost me my day job, but that's all water under the bridge now.

So began this tulip-time, and now we're into green May and Blumechen is back again, stamping her little foot and calling for rewrites and editing. She insists I do my best work, despite the fact that the story is a humble “historical romance.” I hasten to add that it’s "romance" in the original sense of the word, in the way Romeo & Juliet or The Scarlet Pimpernel  or Wuthering Heights are "romances." I’m not using the modern commercial sense of the word with a happily ever after ending . I’m using the old-fashioned bloody insanity of a love affair, the madness which can so easily end in tragedy. IMO that's the true nature of the beast, and exactly what makes completing a tale of a hopeless passion so very, very difficult.

--Juliet Waldron

Juliet Waldron is the author of several historical novels set in the erotic, exotic18th Century:

Mozart's Wife
Red Magic
All available from BWL