Sunday, April 28, 2013

Writing what I know

 An event happened this week that shook me up a little. Not a lot. I’m pretty level-headed when it comes to emergencies. Actually, I’m a lot level-headed. I don’t panic, I don’t look around for someone else to do something. I just do what needs to be done and let the shaking come later.

It will come as no surprise to faithful readers that I deal with my emotions through writing. When all was said and done, I sat at my computer in an empty room and vented. I tried to capture not only the events that had just occurred, but the play of emotions – both the ones I felt and the ones I observed in others.

And then I compartmentalized it. I set the event aside and went on with life as if nothing had changed. Because really, nothing had. The sun still rises, everyone came out of the event alive and well and life moves on.

Yet it was still in the back of my mind, coming to the front at odd times. What might I have done better? Would there have been a way for me to act faster?

So it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that, having read an entire book yesterday that’s in the police-procedural genre, I sat down this morning and wrote my experience into a scene using a character who is an old friend. I didn’t know she had another story in her when I started, but half-way through she poked her head in and claimed the scene for her own.

One of the interview questions I get often is, “How much of your writing is based on experience?” In fact, you can hear my usual answer here. But with the story that got started today, I can honestly say the emotions in the scene I wrote today are real, although in the interest of full disclosure, Callie’s dealing with a gunshot wound and I dealt with something MUCH less traumatic.

Still, writers write what we know. And what we don’t know, we learn. Sometimes through experiences we just as soon wouldn’t rather have.

Play safe,

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