By trying often the monkey learns to jump from the tree. ~ Buganda proverb
I’ve learned a few things about writing in the last few years. Things like: set aside some time to write every day, show, don’t tell, and that common adage shared by all writers: there is no such thing as writing, just rewriting and more rewriting. But I will never forget how I learned to let my characters, not me, tell the story. All writers have a writing zone. A state of mind that leaves the writer so attuned to what is occurring on the page that nothing in the real world exists. I’ve heard of friends who are so into this zone that they didn’t hear the timer on the oven and only came out of their fantasy land when the smoke detector relayed the ominous news: they would be eating out, again. I was in my writing zone one morning, creating a scene in the second book in the Stones trilogy, when it happened. An event had played in front of me much like a TV show and I was merely writing it down. Suddenly, I was no longer watching this scene. I was part of it, sitting with Eseza, helping her prepare her evening meal over a fire. And there, in front of her, were two bags, a burlap bag that held her meagre kitchen and another bag: black and tightly secured with a knotted rope. Eseza set her stirring spoon on a rock and motioned for me to draw closer. I did and she opened her black bag to reveal its contents. I peered over her shoulder and looked in. I gasped and took a step back. Then I looked at Eseza and watched the tears fall from her eyes. “Oh, Eseza,” I said. “I’m so sorry.” And I cried as I held her tight. I will never forget that moment. Eseza became very real and alive to me that day. I understood her more and I think I was better prepared to share her story after that. And that was a very valuable lesson for me: Let your characters tell the story. They know it more than you do. After all, they’re the ones living it, not the writer.