For the past several days eating and sleeping have been incredibly difficult.
No, I’m not in love, or at least, not that kind of love. The love I feel for Safran, the protagonist of my growing novel, is much more complex than a crush, even a passionate, all consuming, flips-one’s-world-upside-down crush. Safran is real; my flame-haired heroine, omnipresent and usually quite vocal, is capable of swapping my sight for full-scale visual clips of her world. I’ve been able to see her since the first time I whispered her nick-name, swirling the breath reverently over my tongue to hear the syllables. I wasn’t expecting a full-scale manifestation. How could I possibly have anticipated such incandescence? Or that she would actually consent to an interview? I knew nothing about her yet, but Safran, luckily, wasn’t short on information. Even now I believe she knows everything.
When Safran first appeared, she was whole and self-assured, everything she will come to be by the time the novel (or–because my verbosity cannot be curtailed–series) is completed. Her present self is different from her past, novel self, and her initial appearance and foresight have always left me with the feeling that I’m not writing fiction so much as history. How disconcerting, then, to find her demonstrating two sides of her self simultaneously: present and past. Now that I am writing her lowest point in this “history” the past self is obscuring the present. Crippled with pain, Safran has tucked herself away and hasn’t mumbled so much as a word in weeks. I want to end her suffering, but the only way I can rescue her from her trauma (I think) is to write a few more chapters. I’m not sure I can write the story without her help; for the last 77 pages, or approximately 45,000 words, Safran has generously granted me her life and voice. She never prepared me for this. Without her I am no longer sure that I know how to write.
Silly self-defeating illogic. I will write those chapters even if I butcher them on the first attempt.
Still, the torch illuminating my story has been dampened in the downpour. I miss Safran and not just because my fingers are itching from lack of use, or because I haven’t gotten my writing dopamine fix, but because in the five years that we’ve shared my humble space she has become friend, confidant, and advisor. I’m pining now for her wry, teasing smile and blunt honesty. Worse, her depression has percolated across the thin membrane separating our two worlds and affected my own mood. Sleep won’t come for me; all I can think about is pulling my companion out of the darkness. Last night I didn’t bother crawling into bed until 7:00 AM. I stayed up and worked on a poem instead; even my poetry is tainted by despair, ‘though it is not my own. I’m not depressed, but being so aware of a character who is down is proving remarkably similar to living with a loved one in the same predicament.
I know what I’ve just written probably sounds a bit crazy, but at least one of the joys of the internet is that I can say what I’m really thinking and feeling without “those fine young men in their clean white coats” locking me away for safe-keeping.