By Jennie AtkinsOkay, maybe I’m weird. Those of you that know me personally are probably shaking your heads in agreement right now.
I say that while I reflect on the manuscripts I have completed. When I write those infamous words…The End…I have a moment of elation followed by a period of sadness. Why you ask? I can only relate it to when my husband and I left Ohio and moved to Nevada. We were excited about the move, yet we were sad because we had to leave our friends and family behind.
We all have friends…new acquaintances and the forever kind. You have friends at work, at church, and next door. Friends are people you want to spend time with. You will probably spend money on them and you pray for them. You share their dark times and their joys.
I have friends that are in my imagination. They are the characters in my books. The people I mentally “commune” with on a daily basis. I get to know them, talk to them about their fears, and their expectations. I spend lots of time with them, and if you consider the conferences and retreats I go to, I spend money on them too. (The pictures to the right are proof of that!) I pray that I can understand them enough to put their image down on paper. I want the reader to empathize with their pain, laugh when they laugh, and make the characters seem so real the reader wants to hold their hand during the character’s blackest moment.
But the sad part is, when my book is done—they’re gone! Poof! And I miss them. Why? Because I’ve dug deep enough into their lives that I really know them. Just like my real friends.
This week I am headed off to the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas where I’ll get to be with my real friends, introducing them to my imaginary friends, sharing plots, and dreaming of publication. If you’ve never been to a conference, I encourage you to try one sometime. The energy I received from one conference has fueled my creativity for years afterwards.
As far as my imaginary friends? They’re the voices in my head that won’t stop. They’ll come and they’ll go. And I’ll get to know each one intimately.
So how about you? Do you get close enough to your characters that you miss them when they’re gone? Or am I the only crazy person out there?