Writing, becoming.

by Rachel Creager Ireland

The book is so close to done, I can smell it. There’s just one thing I need to fix, which is that one character needs a little more depth, a little more challenge to overcome maybe, or some more history, or . . . I don’t know. Something.

At the beginning, I had one heroine, Maeve, whom I thought of as like myself, maybe more brash, more impulsive. She was unhappy, and desperately searching for whatever she could find to help herself. I thought I’d introduce a friend for her, for certain practical purposes, and for contrast I’d make her less conflicted. I wasn’t going to introduce friend Valie until the middle of the book, because she wasn’t really that important. Early on, though, I changed that plan. Maeve was so depressed that I didn’t even like writing her. That was the way it was supposed to be, because if she were happy then there wouldn’t need to be a story, would there? But I had to introduce her eventual friend, Valie, just for some relief. Valie became essential. She also was well-off, confident, and self-possessed.

After a while, I realized that Valie was myself, too. In fact, most of the characters were me, different facets to whom I gave whole personalities and histories of their own. Furthermore, writing them was writing my own healing, my process of moving from the me that I once was to the me that I am becoming, all these different parts of myself talking to each other, sometimes fighting, sometimes helping one another out.  It was a delightful surprise which seemed it should have been obvious, though it didn’t really change anything, I just kept writing.

Now here I am almost at the end, and I’ve fixed up most of the more significant flaws kindly pointed out to me by my friend and editor, Nate Beyer. I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that it is not and never will be a great work, but I feel confident that it has enough light shining through it that it is worth reading. There’s just one thing left to do to call it the best I can do at this time, in a positive way. It’s fixing that one character, the one who is unafraid of pretty much everything, who has the means to do what she wants, who does what she wants without hesitation, but it turns out that I cannot write this character. I can’t find her in me. Something is holding me back from becoming this person. I like her, I’d enjoy being friends with her, but can I be her, can I let her be me? How do I get past this wall?

So the book is delayed again. It’s so close to done it aches. I absolutely believe it will happen. But I don’t know when, or how.

And who knows, by the time it comes together, maybe I’ll have the money to publish it.