I saw a ‘Writer’s In Quarantine Bingo’ meme earlier today, and I didn’t get a bingo, probably because I have a supportive partner at home with me all the time, and I don’t have to try and support myself financially with writing and I don’t drink. But I did relate to a lot of the squares, the main one being, ‘Read Old Writing.’
I’ve been re-reading a lot of my already published work for the past couple of weeks, instead of really moving on writing new material. To be fair to myself, I did write a 15 thousand word short story on the fly the first couple weeks of staying home, which is something I’ve never done before, and maybe it took more out of me creatively than I thought it would. (It’s Sweet Rides, and it’s password protected here if you’d like to read it. Or…it’s available for purchase with sale profits going to COVID 19 related aid organizations, along with all of my other short work if you’re interested in doing that).
But I think the main reason I’ve been re-reading old work is because it’s comforting. It’s like I’m visiting friends, even though those people I made up aren’t really ‘real.’
They’re real to me.
One of my readers who is now a friend just finished my novel, Good Bones, and she said (paraphrasing), ‘I had to put it down for a bit in chapter 14, but I knew it wouldn’t end horribly, even though that chapter was tough to read.’ And I told her of course it wouldn’t end horribly. I don’t write horrible endings for the characters I make up. I try not to write horrible endings even for the characters I’ve made up who die. Because they’re real to me. They’re my friends. My imaginary friends. And I know this sounds a touch mad, but…I mean…I love those people. I wouldn’t have written about them at all if I didn’t. And I just don’t torture people I love or leave them to languish forever in a state of hurt or ruin or agony. Even imaginary people.
So I’ve reread Blink. And Storm Chasing. And Building: A Love Story. And parts of Community. And I’m about to start re-reading Hard Science and Modern Art. And I’ll probably read Good Bones again too. And maybe Lit. Because I can visit my imaginary friends even when being barred from visiting my real ones. And because I can chat with some of my real friends…the real friends I have who ‘know’ my imaginary friends…about my imaginary friends. And for my imaginary friends, I already know everything’s eventually going to work out alright, because I don’t write horrible endings for these invented people I love.
I’m not cracking up in quarantine, so don’t worry about me. I’ve always been just a little bit mad. I couldn’t write fiction the way I do without that small spark of madness.
I don’t plan on losing mine. I’ll write some new stuff soon, I hope. But for now, I’m re-reading old writing. And maybe that means I’m a little crazy, but it’s not quarantine driven. It’s just…Writer Brain. I’m always like this. Having constant imaginary conversations between imaginary people in my head. Haha! I promise I’m not done writing them down, so new stuff will come out eventually. When I feel less of a need to sit with old friends and move a few of their stories forward for other people instead. But that’s not right now.
So if you need me, I’ll be around, visiting my imaginary friends. If you know some of them and want to talk about them with me, I’ll be here ready to chat. I like talking about them. And I like visiting them. And I like visiting them with anyone else who’d like to make the trip with me whenever I can. And that’s my spark of madness, but I’m not going to lose it. I love these figments of my imagination. Because they’re real to me.