I was frantically typing away at my computer at a table in my favorite coffee shop listening to a new character in my next book tell her life story. I was typing every word she said as she rambled on in my brain. She told me about her parents and how they worked hard and about her brothers and sisters – where they lived, what they studied in school, and what they do for a living now. She told me about her love for the cello and played a few pieces. She took me back to her childhood and entertained me with a concert given by her mom, two brothers, two sisters, and herself. She took me to her father’s work and showed me how he parlayed a simple job into dozens of complex jobs for dozens of good people. She gave me advice to pass on to the main characters of the book.
Sometime during our visit a young couple rushed in and sat down. As soon as the young man, who had been pushing a bicycle, sat down, the girl he was with got up and ran out the door. He charged out after her, yelling various obscenities as he cut across the floor.
“Am I the only one who heard all that?” my new character asked. “No, I assured her, this place is full of real people who heard the commotion loud and clear.” “Real? Thanks a lot for the validation,” she said with a huff. “I’m afraid the best validation,” I said in silence within my mind, “is the kind I can give you on a printed or digital page.”
Real relationships take work. They involve giving and sacrifice. They can’t be forecasted. They can’t be closed out with a punctuation mark. They go on long after a thought is finished. They live and breathe and dream and occupy space and time. They create their own memories.
My new character is just going to have to wait in limbo until I get back to her.