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I Will Follow You Into The Dark

January 3, 2010

When I was first planning for this year’s ill-fated NaNoWriMo, I had in mind an overhaul of my first novel-in-a-hurry, which was pretty staunchly a light-hearted adventure romp (complete with a horribly cheesy, happy-endings-for-everyone epilogue). Then the atheist pirates arrived, and as the plot underwent a massive shift so did the mood; I quickly had to acknowledge that I was going to be confronting some rather more serious stuff than I’d been planning on. Now it feels like that first character death was a gateway into even darker subject matter. I have to admit that some of my pre-writing thoughts are starting to vaguely unsettle me. My characters are, it seems, going to be dealing with some fairly tough stuff.

I don’t, however, see that at all as a negative development. An English teacher of mine once referred to writers as “little gods,” and though that’s perhaps a strange reference given that I’m creating characters who are battling religion, I’ve always liked the notion of it. Writers give birth to characters, and can just as quickly make those characters’ lives unbearable–or end their lives altogether. Whatever action is taken, however, writers can’t abandon their characters. They can’t throw their hands up, turn off the computer, and say “tough break, guys, you unravel that mess on your own!” Well, I suppose they can, but good luck convincing a novel to type itself…

Point being that when my characters deal with their tough stuff, I’m going to be dealing with it too, shepherding them ever onward. I don’t doubt that it’ll be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I welcome. I’m still excited to write a rollicking adventure story, but I also look forward to being able to touch on issues of deeper significance.

And so, if I was the type of person to sing to my characters (I usually stick to talking to them–often out loud, and sometimes in public places), I’d sing them this Death Cab For Cutie song, the title of which I usurped for this entry:

You and me
Have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes
Are all worn down…
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark


It’s you and me, characters! Let’s rock this.

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