Stepping Over The Threshold

I met a man the other week, completely out of the blue, and immediately knew I wanted to include him in the next book. He was a walking, talking caricature, an absolute gift to a writer. His mannerisms, his speech, his appearance just screamed inclusion in the chapter taking place in my mind. He was literary manna from heaven, just too good an opportunity to miss out on.

Characters can be birthed in so many different ways. Some can be based on the author themselves, or exaggerated versions of their personalities. Others are based on friends, foes, work colleagues or complete strangers. And other times, they can be complete figments of the characters imagination. As I’ve said before, some of mine were born as I sat on the sofa staring at the blank screen of my laptop.

They just pop into my head unannounced, politely introduce themselves and I start typing. That’s why I’m not totally won over by books that tell you how to write. I can write about how I write but that won’t necessarily work for you. We all have different tips, techniques and tactics. That’s the magic of writing, why it knows no boundaries, why we never know what’s coming next when we lift our pens or sit at a keyboard.

Yet, as with my new character, sometimes as a writer you need to step across the threshold of your front door. Get out there, interact, live and let the characters come to you. Or maybe not a character but a location, object or conversation. I’m a natural introvert, as many writers are, and often have to force myself to attend social events. I tend to get anxious before them and am forever trying to talk myself out of such occasions.

I always find, however, that the risk is outweighed by the bountiful opportunities to garner fresh writing material. There is always something or someone who sparks an idea in my head which has me scrambling for my little black book to scribble it down before it slips away, never to return again. You need to live in order to write. A lucky few are able to make a living from their art, the rest of us do it for a plethora of other reasons. But often, I see something and I just….well….need to write about it.

It’s hard, I know. Life delights in knocking us down in all manner of different ways. Sometimes there feels as if there’s no respite, no break from the various missiles thrown at us from all directions. We dive for cover and pray for a ceasefire, an opportunity to draw breath and regroup. I often feel I should commute to and from Belfast in a suit of armour as opposed to a work suit. It’s a battlefield out there.

You can’t write a book though, hiding beneath the bed covers. Well I can’t anyway. I need to pluck up the courage to get out there. I’ve had my fingers burnt so many times and resolved to never trust again. Yet how can I earn the trust of those I’ve hurt in the past if I don’t learn to trust again. To trust others and trust my own judgement which has let me down and left me so battered and bruised. To trust myself, the one I distrust more than anyone.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 15 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

25 thoughts on “Stepping Over The Threshold

  1. It is interesting how some of those ‘life moments’ are so powerful and profound that they scream to be shared in some way. Yet, if we don’t act upon them to preserve them, they quickly leave our conscience. Being a bit more visual, I find myself whipping out my phone to try and get of picture. Sometimes the picture tells the story, other times it serves as a visual prompt to remind me of the moment.

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  2. Introverts unite! I think I’ve always been an introvert with a few extrovert qualities. I think being an adult and having responsibilities helps develop extrovert qualities simply because at times most of us have to (sometimes)interact with people and situations we’d rather not. And yes I agree, those situations do often provide good fodder for writing! I keep a little notebook in my car that has almost unreadable writing ideas that pop in from out of nowhere! Another great post 🙂 PS. Wear the armor if necessary, us introverts get it.

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  3. Trust … I struggle with it, so yes, I understand. If I could wish for anything (apart from good health and safety for my children obviously!) I’d wish to turn back the clock and make the changes so that I’d never have to spend my days worrying about the future and being sad about the past that has caused this distrust.
    Trust is fragile and so easily broken and when it’s gone where do we go?
    I wish, I wish, I wish I could change the past.

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  4. Yes, this is true. I’ve had characters I made up completely in my head. Others are based on people I see in my environment. And yes, I wrote one fictional character with complex psychology that is actually my own memories of life meshed together.

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  5. Thanks so much for this post. You can’t imagine how helpful it was to me. As a matter of fact, I used it as a prompt this morning. I wrote a character based on a guy at the auto shop while having my car serviced. I too am an introvert writer who needs these reminders to “step over the threshold”.

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