Where Did They Go? -A Writer's Love Letter to His Estranged Characters
Lately, I've been feeling hollow. In the past, I hollowness was a happy feeling for me.
It was usually a term I associated with the vacancy left in my center after writing a story for several hours. I would be filled to the ears with creative energy and I would let it pour out of me. An hour or several hours later, there would be half a chapter sitting in front of me. It was never perfect and sometimes, I would comeback to my pages and wonder why I had been so excited about these ramblings in the first place. Nevertheless, the warm hollowness was something I treasured.
Now, the hollowness I sense comes is of an entirely different nature. On the inside I feel dry and cracked, crumbling. As a writer, as a human being, knowing the act of creation is the most precious experience of all.
Sometimes, though I fear that there is little creativity and imagination left in me. The yearning for my internal reservoir to be filled has never been stronger.
I remember the times when I had so much to write that I would stay up to 1 or 3 oclock in the morning to finish a chapter or an important plot point. Now, I can barely squeeze enough creative ink out of myself to jot down these few lines of white text.
Creating, was such a vital aspect of my life. Writing, was the greatest blessing of my life, even with the moments of pain and struggle.
It was a real and genuine experience.
There were times when I would cry over a character's injury. I felt my heart skip when I discovered two people I had written into existence belonged together. I relished the excitement of unraveling a twisted and confusing plot-point. I cherished the metaphors and similes that I knew would stick in readers' minds even if it was only for a few minutes.
I miss these sensations. I miss feeling the anguish and joy that came from pouring every dream and thought inside me onto paper and forging it into something smooth.
Most of all, I miss the characters I shared these times with:
Asia, Joshua, Kwanga, Hajar, Ismail, Sarah, Kareem, Meda, Andur, Gershom I miss you. You were never just fictional to me. You were flesh, hair, blood and spirit. You were so real there were times where I truly believed all it would take for you to materialize in front of me would be a turn of my head or a well concerted long blink.
You were and remain, friends and companions. You came from me and yet I learned from you. Making you, molding you, understanding you has made me a different person then the one who first brought you into the world.
But despite all we shared, I know we have estranged.
Recently I wondered, where did you go? Where did all the people, places and events that used to be so real to me meander to? Furthermore, why did so few new lives stroll into my mind in your absence?
For the longest time, I thought that you had simply skipped out for a while. I thought for sure you would return. I assumed your loyalty was infinite regardless of my actions or inactions.
I blamed the creative drought inside me on a lack of Inspiration. I blamed her for leaving me, for being a flirtatious wandering, unreliable partner that never had enough time for any one person in her life.
I expected her to bring you back. I believed she would ultimately fill my reservoir.
This is not so.
Now, I realize that I was merely punting responsibility. I blamed fate and forces beyond my control, I cursed my parched soul as my lot in this universe. The truth was you left because I failed to keep up with you. I failed to finish your stories and put in the time and effort required to make you a part of my life.
The waters came from working with you. I dug and dug with you, and as I tunneled down deeper and I found more and more well from which to draw on.
Like any friendship, any relationship, I needed to spend time and effort on you to make my connections with you real, and eventually I stopped putting in the hours. I got lazy, I got lethargic. I failed to finish the work I had begun with you. I got tired of digging.
I failed to give final, complete meaning to your lives. I made you suffer, change and grow. There was potential in you to shine and I failed to understand what I had in you...until now.
I didn't take care of you and because of this you drifted away. Before I understood what I had done, you were all gone and I soon forgot how I had made you in the first place.
It wasn't just creation, or Inspiration that pushed me. It was also sheer effort, it was a willingness to sit down every weekend, no matter the circumstances and make sure I spent at least a few hours with you. I put in this time, because I believed I could make something beautiful and meaningful. I put in this time because I believed in you.
Though I've forgotten much in a year and half, I realize that I need you and a host of new characters in order to make this world a place I truly love and enjoy existing in.
Creation, shaping individuals like you, is an essential part of my being. I don't want to do without it anymore.
I will have a difficult time starting over, I'm sure. Undoubtedly you won't be exactly the same as I remember. I won't be the same writer I was either.
I think though, this is a very good thing. I know there's so much we have to teach each other. As I work on new stories and finishing your own, I want you by my side guiding me with the lessons we learned in those long night typing sessions so many years ago.
I know I can't rely solely on Inspiration and you to fill my reservoir. I want to put in the work to fill myself again. I will chisel away at myself and dig beneath the coarseness inside me until I strike water. When it bubbles up, I truly hope you come and join me for a drink.