What Writing Is Like

I’ve had a few readers over the past couple of years ask me about the creative/writing process, and I’ve written a couple of posts about it here before, trying to explain it. J has asked me about it before too. J’s a very creative man, but his creativity comes in practical ways, like engineering solutions. So making up a story in my head is as much of a mystery to him as it is to the readers who’ve asked me about it, even though he’s talked to me every day for over 17 years and has lived with me most of that time. He knows me better than anyone else. And until last night, he still had a pretty hard time understanding when I’d try to answer him. Hell, sometimes I don’t really understand it myself. But last night at dinner, we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas as a family.

It tells the story of Charles Dickens as he wrote A Christmas Carol. Obviously, it’s not a totally historical account. But the movie did an amazing job of illustrating what it was like for Dickens (and what it IS like for me) to get inspired to create characters and stories. Little pieces of looks and words and conversations and real life people you know and events in your life get gathered and mixed until Dickens came up with Ebeneezer Scrooge and company. I probably said, ‘It’s EXACTLY like that! Haha!’ ten or more times watching the film with J last night. And he laughed with me, but he also understood more.

“Do your characters follow you around like that? Do you talk to them?”

Yeah. I mean, not OUT LOUD. But there are characters who ‘talk’ to me. And they don’t go away until the story is finished.

And at one point in the film, Dickens tells his friend, ‘If I can’t finish it, I’m afraid I’ll never write again.’ J asked me if I ever felt like that. And I said yeah. I do. I’ve felt like that for months now. And I’ve felt like that before…often…when I get blocked. J said, ‘Well, clearly it worked out for Charlie.’ And he chuckled and I giggled back. But that was comforting too. It did indeed work out for Charlie. He obviously finished the story. It’s a beloved holiday classic for centuries now. And I know I’m no Charles Dickens by any stretch. But maybe it’ll work out for me too.

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