While writing a novel I have all of my characters swirling around inside of me–their motivations, their fears, their joys, their good days and bad. Right now I am working on a war novel that is about a group of 12 soldiers and an army Chaplain who fight those who create wars: bankers, politicians, and war profiteers. And I carry all of these characters with me inside of my subconscious throughout my waking hours and for the entirety of the time I write my novel until completion.
If you want to know what I write about, imagine war stories, serial killers, people who are insane, people who have been hurt, tormented in life. And I know all of my characters as much as I know myself. At times it becomes painful knowing all of these things, carrying their pain and suffering with me along with my own.
And though I enjoy what I do immensely, it is very trying at times, as I’m sure you can imagine, to have these characters, some who are not the nicest people in the world, hurting some of the other characters who are nice and kind people around inside of me. They are living beings, doing their things, sometimes harmful things to themselves and others, and I have to remember that they are simply characters in a work of fiction.
But that is also why I have to have a drink, exercise daily, and get plenty of rest otherwise I am overwhelmed with my characters’ battle fatigue. When it is time to rest it is time to rest. Usually I slog along until the novel is done and then I take my vacation from those very painful situations and strained individuals. A welcomed respite indeed.