It’s impossible to know everything about a person. But we’ve been friends for the past few years and I thought I knew her fairly well. We’d spent so much time together; evenings, weekends, and those very rare days off. Very accomplished in her career, she was the one whose opinion was respected by her peers above all others; the one with the coolest head in a crisis. I admired her tenacity, technical prowess and unique ability to charm even the most obstinate of egotists into analytically – rather than emotionally – addressing the issues. She was the total package. But every now and then, a fissure would appear in her facade; but would be gone so quickly, it was easy to think I imagined it.

On infrequent occasions it appeared that she responded to a situation a little too harshly; other times, I thought I heard her gnash her teeth before yet another run-in with politically motivated colleagues. Maybe she just needed a vacation. After all, she’d been at it for five straight years without even a hint of a break. Then I began to pay closer attention – asked myself the hard questions. Isn’t that what one does when a friend seems to be perilously close to the brink? I spent days trying to put the pieces together, but nothing added up. In spite of my misgivings, I finally had to ask.

Putting pen to paper, I allowed her to guide my hand. I was stunned by the words that flowed. My heroine suffered from a wounded heart. She had been trying to ‘show’ me, but I persisted in seeing what I wanted to see. She’s the super-heroine; she has problems to solve, people to save, technology to master. Her life was full of external drama and I steadfastly refused to see that she also had a personal problem that threatened to drain her stamina. Obviously, I was the most obstinate egotist of all.

More of her backstory streamed from the pen. I fully expected her heart to heal in time for her to don the big red ‘S’ and wage war on the villains of the tale. But it didn’t. It was still broken when she discovered each crisis. It was still broken when she fought her way through them. The broken heart explained why her natural determination was tinged with punishing aggressiveness at times. Though she shared herself openly with her friends; her injury caused her to be aloof toward men; and to summarily back them off if they ventured too close. When she least expected it, her condition surfaced the transient vulnerabilities that she expended much of her energy to suppress. It isn’t that the broken heart is now the focus of the story; it’s more like a condition that has to heal while she stands up to the antagonists and fights for her future. With a refreshed point of view, I’m silkscreening in the new aspect; and sharing her more richly faceted story.

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Row80 Update, 5/8/2011:

My ROW80 session two update is a post this week .

  • Goal 1: Three hours per day. Met it five of the seven days this week.
  • Goal 2: Discovering that my 1st draft was horribly uneven in terms of writing quality. In Chapter 3, reached a stretch that required editing, but not much rewriting. Update is complete now through the first scene of Chapter 4.  So 28 down, 184 to go…

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are Moms!
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15 Responses to Blindsided

  1. This is so well-written and wonderfully said!

  2. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks Kat! Makes me wonder what else I’ve missed by being so hard-headed. 😉

  3. Oh man. This hits uncomfortably close to home… I feel like you’re describing me, haha. Nicely done!

  4. Good job! And your goal of writing three hours a day reminds me of how I once was…back when I created my first five novels.

    Maybe I’ve run out of steam!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. alberta ross says:

    It helps to find the cracks – well done – and well done for managing to stick to goals – best of luck next week – keep smiling

  6. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks Belinda. I hope there aren’t more characters that I haven’t been listening to. Yikes…

    Laurel-Rain, please don’t say you’ve run out of steam! The three hours are time I reclaimed from 7 – 9 from eliminating television. So far less impressive when thought of that way.

    Thanks Alberta. I seem to be finding so many. But hopefully, that means that fewer are left.

  7. I understand operating from a wounded heart. Let her heart be bigger than her hurt, she will come out and show you as you type.

  8. Wow, isn’t it funny how close we become to our imaginary friends? In any other profession they might send us to the loony bin. 😉

  9. It’s strange how characters take on a life of their own, and how their personalities can develop completely independently of how you envisioned them. It can be funny as well, until you realise that they’re doing the complete opposite of what you want them to do…

  10. Being a writer is like being a god: you create them, mold them, teach them. There I times I forget what their weaknesses may be because I’m too busy crafting their futures. Reading this makes me wonder if my babies need to talk. Very nice.

  11. CathrynLouis says:

    You’re right Caroline, her heart will have to bigger than her heart for her to grow. Just haven’t yet figured out how. ;).

    Jessica, Rebecca and Will; thanks for commenting.

    What I like most about writing is that it allows our imaginations to run wild; creating characters and shaping them. I especially love it when the pieces of the puzzle come together and reveal them fully – sometimes with unexpected traits.

  12. cleemckenzie says:

    Great goals. Great progress. Loved that you listened to your character. That’s the only way to dig deeply and let them tell their story.

  13. CathrynLouis says:

    Thanks, Clee. I totally agree.

    Was looking at an earlier comment and see that I have 7-9 as 3 hours. Yes, I know it’s 2 hours. 🙂 Got tangled up with 6-9 and 7-10. Just depends on which day.

  14. K.M. Weiland says:

    Gotta love it when your character finally spills her guts! The heroine in my fantasy Dreamlander was a bit like that. She was a dickens to write, just because she wouldn’t let me past her walls. When I finally did break through – after much sweat and blood and toil – she ended up being one of the best heroines I’ve ever written.

  15. CathrynLouis says:

    K.M., I can imaging the breakthrough felt very satisfying after such hard work. Very encouraging that she turned out to be one of your best.

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