The Evolution of a Character


cartoon+crows+and+moon

I almost threw “Mining the Dark” in the garbage. 

As you may recall from one of my previous posts, I realized that the character of Emma is highly influenced by my own trials and tribulations. Once I realized that, I somehow thought that the characterization was “fake,” which is odd given that we’re talking about a fiction book. I guess “fake” in the sense that it was too real, too me.

I discussed this with a friend, specifically in talking about how art impacts life and life impacts art. For those of us who are creative, not having an outlet for expression can just about drive you crazy. It should be no surprise that some of the greatest artists struggled with some type of emotional/mental challenges. My favorite example is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is one of my favorite authors of all time. He, quite naturally, struggled with depression due to the untimely death of his wife, which many have said suggested influenced much of his writing. Another favored author is Emily Dickinson, who was widely known to be deeply troubled by thoughts of death, as many around her died when she was young. Her depression was so significant that as an adult, she became more and more reclusive. And then there is the ultimate example of Sylvia Plath, an acclaimed poet and novelist who committed suicide not long after being prescribed anti-depressants.

Extraordinary artists are all a bit…askew. Given their challenges, they are able to see life through a lens that some find shocking, while others shout, “Yes! I’m not the only one!” They always make an impression, a very emotional one. This type of response is the reason why I always said that I appreciated it when someone hated Emma, because I marvel at the fact that a character I created could evoke such strong feelings in another person. That is, until I accepted that Emma is somewhat an aspect of my own personality. When you hate her, you hate that part of me. Although I may not know you, the thought of that terrifies me. 

I’m embracing the fear. When I was a teenager, writing poetry was a great way to release the pent-up thoughts and feelings that would’ve otherwise consumed me. It’s foolish for me to think that I cannot use my own writing to do the same thing now…and maybe help another person along the way.

Love her or hate her, Emma is here to stay. I’m not throwing out “Mining the Dark.” If anything, I’m more committed than ever in completing the manuscript as soon as possible. 63,000 words and counting….

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