A writer sits, hunched over her keyboard, fingers flying. The muse is soaring and the emotion is swelling. Tears slip down her cheeks and her body shakes as she finishes off the most emotional scene in her story. Wow. That was the best scene she’d ever written.
Well, um, er, not exactly. Just because we feel the emotion behind our scenes doesn’t always mean it’s coming across in our readers. In our minds our story and characters are fully formed but putting that emotion into words is a whole ‘nother story.
Sometimes, as humans, we see what we want to see.
For example, this past weekend, I waited under an overpass for my friends, who drive a blue Subaru. I was going to follow them to my daughter’s soccer game. I didn’t want to get lost.
I sat, anxious, ready to go. I’m the coach, so arriving late wouldn’t be good. I kinda knew how to get there, but I wanted to be safe.
And then the blue Subaru passed and a man with dark hair waved. Woo hoo. We were off.
My daughter: “That doesn’t look like a Subaru, Mom.”
Me: “I know. I never realized how much a Subaru looks like a mini-van.”
On the highway, he passed the exit I thought he was going to get off. I thought, He must know a different way, which is totally possible because that’s how bad my sense of direction is.
Then he got off an exit and pulled into McDonalds. I thought, Jeez, doesn’t he know we’re barely going to get there on time?
My daughter: “Mom, their car has a Massachusetts license plate.” (We live in New Hampshire.)
Me: What? No way. Impossible.
I pulled up and waited.
Me: Quick, look. Is that Mr. Jackson? (changed name to protect the innocent)
My heart dropped as I looked closer. It was a woman with short dark hair, driving a min-van.
Me: “But she waved at me! The car is blue!”
I whipped out and pushed the speed limit the whole way to the game. And for the record, I would have gotten there right on time, except a landmark had changed its name so I passed the right road and got lost in another city. (But that’s a whole ‘nother story too.)
I saw what I wanted to see, even though the clues were there.
And it can happen in our writing too.
Have you ever convinced yourself of something that wasn’t really there? You can lie to make me feel better. Please.