I Think I’m Haunted

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No, I’m not crazy. Okay, maybe I am, but that is not the point here. The point is that I seriously think I’m haunted. There are voices in my head. They whisper in my ear. I have to be haunted.

In my free time, I’m a writer. That means not much time writing as I work full-time. Well, at least there is not much actual writing going on. But I hear the characters talk to me no matter what I’m doing, even moving product around the country.

Yes, I said they talk to me. I can be in the middle of processing an order for my day job. A whisper in my head creates a scene or an entirely new plot idea. I hear the characters tell me what they think should happen or how they want to develop. They don’t always agree with the way I see a story going. They tend to have their own opinions and like to voice them.

But the voices are not really why I think I’m haunted. It is the voices of past characters who keep coming back to remind me that they are not dead. Yep, their souls are still there and like to drop hints for more stories about them. Like I don’t have enough story ideas!!! They add to the list.

Characters never really leave for the fictional after-life. They stick around like ghosts. They are not solid, but their essence is there to torture you. I say torture because I have laid them to rest and moved on. But they refuse to just fade into the night. They persist to plot and scheme.

I don’t mean to complain. Their presence is not always terrifying as you expect from a haunting. There are times when they bring a smile to my face. I remember getting to know them and experiencing so many adventures with them. Oh, the memories!

Only writers can understand the idea of being haunted by fictional people. It is a most unique situations. I’m just glad my hauntings aren’t like King’s. That would be an experience I’d pass on.

Alone in a Sea of People

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Have you ever heard that you can be alone in a crowd? I heard that phrase and thought it was poetic sounding and meant to be discussed in a philosophy class. That can be true, but it can be a very literal saying that I have learned from personal experience. You can be alone with a hundred people around you.

A crowd does not mean you are connected. That is what it comes down to. Connections. A crowd is just people. They are bodies, many times with no interest in you.

Think of it this way. You are sitting at a family gathering. You are troubled about an issue at work or are having marital problems. It could be depression haunting you. Those around you have no idea about what is hurting you inside. You are alone because no one else can connect with you.

Being alone can be physical and emotional. Alone can be no one around or no one who can understand and connect to you. I’ve felt it way too often.

Hurt is familiar to all of us. Not everyone knows about it. Your pain eats at you, but no one else can see it. It’s like seeing a ghost no one else can. Those around you cannot understand your reaction nor your feelings. You are alone in a crowd.

Most of the time, people don’t want to discuss such issues. To expose our inner feelings, makes us more vulnerable. That is dangerous and uncomfortable to us. We want to avoid those feelings.

I have found that writing scenes that require a character to feel alone in a character can be enjoyable because I have been there and felt that way. An author writes the best scenes if they have experienced the characters’ feelings. The author can make the scene real.

I wrote a novel for my master’s thesis. It turned out to be a very emotional piece of writing as I put so many real events from my life in it. The Black Sheep is a story of a middle-aged woman facing the death of her mother. Not only does she have to deal with the intense feelings within her, she has to deal with family drama which everyone faces at one time or another. The emotions of her mother dying, tension with siblings, and the fear and questions of the past are all from me. That made the scenes harder to write and more real.

Being alone in a crowd is very real. Connection of emotions is what it means. We can’t do it with everyone. Don’t feel bad if you have these feelings. Admit them. You can deal with them better if you do.

The Most Challenging Question I’ve Been Asked

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My daughter asked me a simple question the other day. It was very simple, yet I cannot shake my…answer.

The daughter who has been married for a couple of years asked, “Mom, if work gave you an opportunity to move to France for two years, would you go?” I work for a French owned company who send interns over to work in the States for a specified period of time. So in that aspect, it was a simple question.

Let’s start with the fact that I would never be asked to do that. I’m in not in a position in that company to ever be offerred that, but it still got me thinking. That was even more so after I quickly answered, “No!”

Catherine asked me, “Why not?”

“Well, there are things to consider like my house here, my husband, my….” That’s all I had. She pushed for more concrete answers, and I could not give her a single thing. I couldn’t even use my job as an excuse as it would have been my job sending me there. Therefore I would have income.

She hung up, and I kept hearing that question and my answer in my head. Shame swept over me. I gave a coward’s answer. I would be afraid to move to a different country and have to live in it for more than the time I would have spent if I had gone on vacation. Adventure would have awaited me, and I would have run from it.

I’m boring. It’s just a fact. I’m boring as watching sand fall through an hourglass. Telling anything about my life is blah. No one wants to know anything about me because there is nothing interesting. I read. I write. I work. I crochet. I’m learning to knit. Aren’t you excited to hear more? I’m not even interested.

I want to have my tombstone say, “She lived a hell of a life!” It won’t say that if I kicked the bucket today. I hang my head in shame.

I know why I’m like this. I was raised to be safe, to take the conservative route, to not take risks. My very upbringing prohibits me from enjoying life to its fullest. Only brother dared to break from that. He joined the Navy and has gone on adventures nearly every year of life even after leaving the Navy that took him throughout the Western hemisphere. Even though he moved back to within a few miles of where he had been born, he goes to places like Africa and experiences life. I’m so jealous of him. Note: I am jealous in a good way that only a sister who idolizes him can.

I want to do that. I want to live life. So I have decided to start a real bucket list. I’ll be fifty in a couple of years. My youngest is leaving home next year. I have the chance to live my life in a way like never before. I’m actually going to it.

I’ll share with you my list. I’ll share with you as I prepare for them and actually do them. World, watch out! Who knows what story ideas I’ll get from my adventures.

Should I Be Worried That I Enjoy Writing Evil Characters?

I’ve found a horrible secret that I’ve hid from myself. When I write an evil character, I find myself enjoying it. There! I said it! What a relief to that off my chest.

I hinted at this once and got the impression that I was horrible for feeling that way. Maybe they were right. But it feels so good when I’m in that character’s head.

Let me stop here and clear a few things up. I do not enjoy writing about deception, murder, or anything else horrific. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the challenge to be something I’m not and explore feelings that are taboo.

I discovered this when I wrote my first book, Deep Connections, which is published under my pen name of Shadow Steele. I had sections of my trilogy where I wrote from the point of the view of the evil character. I enjoyed describing this greed and desire for revenge. It wasn’t long before I found his sections were meatier than the others.

Then I wrote a story called Pure Obsession that will be coming out under another pen name before the end of the year. It is a very dark story told from two different POVs. One chapter would be from the female character. The next one would be from the male character who could be classified as the bad guy. When I wrote the chapters for Marcus, I had to be completely alone. My temper was short as I got into his mind and reflected his thoughts and feelings. I mentally became Marcus. But his sections were sooooooo good.

What does that say about me? Maybe I just freed a part of me that had been locked up. Maybe I opened up an exciting new creative world that had yet been untapped by me. It was a challenge for me and one that continues to challenge me.

I’m playing around with the idea of writing a story just from the evil guy’s perspective. Not sure who or the premise, but it’s bouncing around in my head.

What are your thoughts? Got an idea for a story I can play around with?

Inspiration From Teenage Drama

Teenagers can be very dramatic. I mean VERY! Trust me when I say this. I’ve had three. The drama puts TV shows to shame.

It never fails for my seventeen year old daughter to daily give me a run down on the drama in her teenage group. I know who is dating who, who broke up with who, and who did something royally stupid.

I have to admit here that there are times I just want to scream. I get sick of hearing about it all especially since I know most of the drama will be forgotten in a few hours by all involved. Over time, I began to notice ideas taking root in my mind as the drama swirled around me.

After I had dropped the kids off at the coffee shop, I thought on what had been said. What if this happened? What if that happened? Stories begin to form in my mind.

What just happened? Teenage drama penetrated my writing sphere! Yep, I’ve been invaded by the dark side.

I have a young adult story started due to my daughter and her friends talking about a girl asking a guy out to a dance and to only be turned down by the jerk. That was their word for him, not mine.

There are stories present in all that drama. I just have to sift through the ultra-drama, or at least some of it. Even that kind of over the top can be inspiration for me as a writer.

Maybe the pain and suffering of that drama will pay off.

Sometimes You Just Need a Drink

Life is not easy going. It is not a bed of roses. We have heard these sayings and other similar ones. Well, they are all true. That means that sometimes you just need a drink.

I had one of those days at work. When I say work, I mean my day job that pays the bills and supplies health insurance. It also supplies a lot of writing material though sometimes I wish it was not quite so exciting.

I didn’t ask for patience. I didn’t ask to have roughness in my life to smooth my own rough edges. By the end of the day, I needed a drink.

There are times it feels like that every day. I get very stressed when I feel like I’m in a deep pit with others standing around the edge to pelt me with rocks. Do you get that? Do you feel that you have a target on your back or at least all over your body? Please tell me I’m not alone.

It seems that too often I’m on the defensive. Someone is pointing a finger at me because they want to cover up their mistake. Oh, I make plenty of mistakes. They don’t point them out. Maybe because I admit to them. They make up stuff. I just don’t get it.

I do try to turn it around and make it positive. In fact, I think of scenerios I could put in a book where they get payback. Oh, the fun I have in that. It can be funny at times. I don’t have them murdered in my mind. I have in comical situations, embarrassing situations. Then I laugh the next time I see them because I see them with the pie in the face or the monkey licking their face.

The best part? They have no idea what I’m laughing about. I really do get the last laugh then.

Why In the World Did I Ever Think of Being a Writer?

To answer this question, I think I have to go back to my early childhoold. No, I did not dream of a being a best selling novel. No, I did not write notebooks full of stories. Wish I had. My beginnings as a writer were much more practical to me. I wrote stories in my head to help me sleep.

Some people can lay down and be asleep within minutes if not seconds. Not me. It would take me sometimes hours. I discovered that stories I wrote helped me sleep. It still took me quite a long time, but I would never notice when I slipped into DreamLand.

I would take a story I had read or something I had seen on TV (probably Disney as we only had two or three channels back then – yes, I just told my age.) One night, I’d work on the first scene. The next night, I’d try to remember where I left off and perfected a few things. That first scene could take a month or more to finish as I did it over and over, but it helped me to sleep. That was the goal.

When I was a kid, I read Gone With the Wind. This was a woman who had had no training as a writer and left a legacy. Why couldn’t I do it? Then I knew that one day I’d write a story. It took me another decade or two to actually attempt it.

Now, I have been told that I wrote stories in my school years, but I honestly do not remember them. Maybe they were just so bad that I wanted to forget they had ever existed.

My first story written was only to stop a recurring dream. A friend suggested I write it out so I’d stop dreaming. Then it turned into a book, then into a trilogy and then a few short stories to fill in gaps. The rest is the cliched history.

Sleep. Dreams. The perfect writing inspiration for me.