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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG October 2017 - Writing Real

 It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read posts from other members, click here.

This month's option question? Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters either by accident or on purpose?

I rewrote a scene the other day in which my character has an overwhelming shock. To make it feel real, I channeled two of my own experiences. The first? A day at work when someone got into my face in a way-over-the-top, completely unprofessional way. Since I was at work I couldn’t say what I was thinking, nor could I give into my impulse to lunge over my desk and throttle the—well, let’s use the word "antagonist." Somehow, I managed to keep my voice low and calm, all while my head threatened to explode and my vision got blurry. Blood pressure on high, I believe.

To that, I mixed in memories of fainting. I don’t make a habit of it, but there’s some kind of low blood sugar/pressure disposition in my family to faint. Similar to what happens to people before they get a migraine or seizure, I get a warning when I’m going to faint–an out of context feeling of intense dread. If that happens and I don’t get my head down fast, my vision starts to go wonky, dark stains drown out the light and, plop, I go down. Here’s the interesting part. I dream when I faint. I also get sick afterwards. 

I used those two examples in the following scene. You be the judge. 

“You think Ed had something to do with Trevor?” Marnie felt as if her organs had swollen, as if they’d burst out of her skin. The shed in front of her dissolved into black splotches. Afraid she was about to pass out, she squatted, ducking her head between her knees, bile bitter at the back of her throat. She fought for control but darkness carried her through mist and fog to a different land, a place where Trevor and Angelique still slept safe and alive in a tent behind her grape arbor.  
She had no idea how long it was until she became aware of the grass inhabiting the space between her feet, or Rosalie's strong arm holding her up off the ground. "Deep breaths," her sister said. Keep your head down. Let the blood get back in there."
Marnie lifted her head, repeating her earlier question. "Ed had something to do with Trevor?" Her voice sounded tinny. As if she spoke into a empty can.
Rosalie pushed her head down again. “I don’t know. I have no idea what that backpack was doing there. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. It threw me, but Vinnie and I both thought it made no sense to upset you until we had some idea what it was all about.”
As she crouched in front of Rosalie’s shed trying to fathom the discovery of her son’s missing backpack, she remembered the night she'd encountered Ed at the movies so long ago. Unable to control it any longer, she retched, losing her dinner. Rosalie held her head, her hands cool on Marnie’s hot forehead as she pulled herself up from her knees, coughing.

(Google is wonky today! No matter what I tried to do, I could not get that third to last paragraph to indent.)
How does your real life color your writing?


Patsy said...

I use my real emotions in my writing - but not the actual events which provoked them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You dream while you're out? That's unusual. Sorry about the getting sick afterwards.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's good that you at least get some notice when you faint. I've done so twice, and they happened too suddenly for me to do anything. I liked seeing how you incorporated your fainting into the scene you shared.

Pat Garcia said...

There's no way that I can write without some part of me being within the project. I truly think it is natural.
All the best.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I really liked the scene and the way you worked in those details. :)

mshatch said...

I like that teaser! You got me curious with that snippet. Excellent use of your own experience.

Nick Wilford said...

Using your own experience made the snippet feel very real. I also got intrigued about the story! Terrible of that co-worker to treat you like that, but at least you were able to use the experience for something positive.

Joanne said...

Tight writing and yes, I think that bringing in your own being makes the writing authentic. I do that in my poems, and even my humor pieces. I think that's how we connect with authors - something is sympatico and it shows

Sadira Stone said...

Very good description of the fainting experience. I was afflicted with that problem when I was a scrawny teenager with low blood pressure. I think we all have the experience of an infuriating coworker, too. Your approach sounds like what actors are taught--draw on your own most emotional moments to bring authenticity to your performance.
Good stuff!

Karen Baldwin said...

I sometimes get tachycardia which starts with a head rush, a feeling like I'm going to pass out, then rapid heartbeats. After reading your blog I remembered that I used this condition for one of my characters, Granny Mar. And weird that her name is Marnie too.

Tamara Narayan said...

If you're going to write about fainting, it does help to have personal experience. I'm sure this is true of many things. I also remember my dreams after fainting a few years ago. Oddly, I was dreaming about being in a hospital under the care of nurses and when I came to, I had my husband call 911 and went-yep-to a hospital.

Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

I was quite the fainter as a child and every time I encountered a needle up until my daughter was born in 2005. Your description is spot on. I never got sick afterwards but often had a headache and total exhaustion. Just not fun!

Diane Burton said...

It's good you were able to tap into real-life sensations by using your experiences (as unpleasant as they are). That scene felt so real.

Chemist Ken said...

I have my main character fainting after a fight with the antagonist. Hope you don't mind if I take some cues from your writing.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

The passage sounds wonderful, full of detail and backstory and intrigue. Way to go!

Unknown said...

I had a seizure once in college and during it I had a dream, of sorts. It was very disorienting.
I think my life colors my writing very much, though I work hard to be sure it's not obvious. (Have to keep the innocent, innocent after all.)