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  • Leslie Tourish

Rethinking Time

I’m still working on my novel about the twins, Sienna and Rachel, but I haven’t written anything new in almost a week. And I miss them.

While my absence is reasonable for many reasons (holiday guests, holiday shopping, holiday decorating, and holiday cooking) it still gnaws at me. So even when I’m not writing, I’m still thinking about the book, attempting to plot out the next chapter.

In this case the next chapter will bring in my final major character, and I can’t wait to meet him. I can’t wait to see how he develops, what his dreams and quirks are, and how his voice emerges.

When you’re creating a character for the first time, you paint with the broadest of strokes. With each paragraph you imagine the character’s inner world, sitting with the ambiguity of trying on what they might think or say, until their personality comes into focus.

It takes time to play with the language. There’s a juggling act, making a character interact with other characters, all the while imagining what each person is going through inside, the tug-of-war between their dreams and disappointments. What do they keep hidden, maybe even from themselves?

It’s hard when I can’t find enough time to write, but I love being with my family. And I love the holidays (mostly). So, how do I juggle? I’m compassionate with myself. I recognize that even if I come up with an idea while I’m doing dishes, that’s writing. Bonus points if I actually write that idea down before it floats away like a dandelion seed on a breeze.

I was lucky enough recently to be invited into a critique group. We met last week via Zoom, and the two hours flew by quickly as we dissected one another’s stories and offered feedback. I left energized, even though I’d learned my first chapter needs to broken apart and rewritten. I know this was time spent toward writing.

That night, before I fell asleep, a new first line came to me, born from their critique. I smiled and considered this forward motion.

Maybe if people were more compassionate with themselves, we’d find more ways to move our projects forward until we get what we most crave: satisfaction.

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