The character who keeps coming back; most writers have them. The book that can’t or won’t be finished–those too are endemic. My particular dark horse always returns in the year’s first warm weather, this year occurring in April. She’s here now, sucking up my waking hours. Needless to say, I’m reediting and reimagining scenes and conversations I’ve visited many, many times before. I’ve journeyed to this imaginary world over a period of almost thirty years. Blumechen remains a fascinating young woman, but I’m tired, and age is distancing me from so much of her experience.
This reworking doesn’t take place every year, at least not since the first decade. The gaps between are now closer to biennial. “She” is the first book I ever completed, although a satisfactory ending, I think, still eludes me. Like Constanze of Mozart’s Wife, this heroine insists on speaking in the first person, which both narrows and deepens her POV. It’s like writing from inside the confines of her 18th Century dress.
I’ve heard authors talk about having a “channeling” experience with their characters. There are many tales of automatic writing and spirit dictation, which sound as if they should be taken with handfuls of salt. However, after the experience I’ve had working on this perhaps never-to-be-finished novel, I know it can happen. Ordinarily, for a historical writer, it takes a period of research followed by concentration to make your dolls get up and move independently. In this case, it seems I was the vessel chosen by an actual voice from the past. She’s told me at least a part of her story.
So began this year’s tulip-time April, and now we’re into green May, and Blumechen is here, imperiously calling for rewrites and far more stringent editing. She insists I do my best work, despite the fact that her story might be classified as “romance.” I hasten to add that it’s “romance” in the truest sense, in the same way that Romeo & Juliet is “romance,” not the modern mass market meaning. In this case, “romance” means the old-fashioned bloody insanity of passion, which can so easily end in tragedy. It’s the true nature of the beast, and it makes completing Blumechen’s story so difficult. I don’t really want to experience the end.