giving birth to characters you know will one day grow up and leave the house…

They flow out into the world taking a piece of you with them. In the beginning you try to mold and shape them enough so they  grow and mature on their own, find their way and fulfill their destiny. You know, in your heart of hearts, that one day they will pack their car and wave goodbye as they head off to college or some other endeavor fate has waiting for them. You smile and wave, but the moment they are out of sight you break down crying. They’re gone. They’ve taken your time, your energy, your sanity and your love only to leave you holding their history as a reminder that at one point you breathed life into them, you guided them, you had a plan for them…

I’m speaking of the characters that writer’s create and nurture in their novels and short stories of course.

The current manuscript I am working on has two characters pushing and shoving for the spotlight. Their chemistry is palpable to the point that I want to continually drop the two of them into as many different situations as possible and see what happens. I close my eyes and I can see them both in vivid detail. For all intents and purposes they are living, breathing entities that need me as much as I need them. They need me to dress them, feed them, put a roof over their heads, entertain them, make sure they get to work on time… I set their hair. I have a direct hand in their moods, their desires and help them process their fears.

You guessed it. I’ve just described being a parent – a controlling, over-involved, helicopter parent, but a parent nonetheless! The differences are not so subtle. I can’t flip the pencil and erase their mistakes so they can start over. I can’t see the pain in my son’s eyes when he’s been emotionally leveled and turn back time so that the event in question never occurs. I cannot choose who their friends are or manage their relationship that I know is detrimental to their development as a person.

You love them with all that you are and ever will be. You would sell your soul a thousand times over for the guarantee they will make it through life without pain or fear, for the assurance they will find boundless contentment. You pour your energy and love into them only to find the plan you had for them isn’t meant to be their plan at all.

And then they leave.

The story you’ve been writing is over. The last sentence in the last chapter that you had a hand in has run its course. There’s nothing left for you to do, but hope and pray that when others peruse the family photo album and read hear the stories that go with those moments in time that they cry as you cried, laughed when you laughed and cheered when you cheered.

And if they don’t? It doesn’t matter what other people think, because these are your babies and you would fight to the death to defend them. Or write a sequel with a happy ending.

-P

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