Saturday, March 17, 2012
No Birds Were Harmed in the Making of This Post
For years my mother told that story with a little nervous laugh. I think she was afraid that it was evidence that I had some sort of borderline personality disorder, some fundamental lack of compassion, and I admit I can understand why. But I know now that I wasn't desined to grow up to be a sociopath, or even a bird hunter (I'm animal rights! I swear!) I was simply meant to be a writer.
See, that's pretty much what writers do: We go out and find some perfectly good characters and we wound their lives, their situation, in some way so that we can have the experience of nursing them back to health - or, not back to the same "health" they had before, but on to some new health, some new normal, some place a little farther along their path where they are a little bit stronger and wiser than they were when we first took our writer's slingshot and knocked them out of the tree. Cruel? I'm sure it would look that way to anyone who saw me walking into the woods with my rocks, and I'm sure it feels that way to the characters, too. But the truth is, working through that broken situation is the only way the character is going to learn what they need to learn, become the person they need to become. We wound something in their lives to heal something in their souls.
And then we let them fly.