Today I did an experiment, a crazy experiment, you might say, one that grew out of chit-chatting with my Beta Readers on Facebook, me posting my daily updates on what chapter I finished writing today, and them commenting that they want to read my chapters as I crank them out, and me asking if they want me to send it to them as I crank them out, every day, and them threatening to install cyber stalker cameras to see what I'm writing, and me asking, what, you guys want to watch me write it LIVE?!? And them yelling, YES!!! I me going, oh, really, for real? It would be boring. And them going, no, it would not be boring at all! And me confirming the same idea on Twitter and people telling me, yes, they would like that, and me getting scared shitless and still saying, okay, all right, I will do that, thinking back to Hugh Howey and his multiple LIVE videos of opening his books and such, and deciding, fine. I will do it. I will. And then waking up this morning, not knowing where this will lead, and turning on LIVE camera at a little past 10am (my typical writing time), and...
My anxiety was gone, my audience swallowed it. Typically before starting to write I have these amazing bouts of self-doubt, of visions of my writing being complete shit, of biting knuckles, running into the kitchen and back out of the kitchen to get coffee, then to reheat coffee, then checking all of the last messages on my phone, then playing Words With Friends, then crying, a lot of crying, and usually bugging my boyfriend at work over Skype to tell me that I don't suck, that it's okay for me to write. This can last from 30 minutes on good days to 2 hours on bad days. It's getting better the more I write, but I still experience intense self-doubt every single day. NOT TODAY. The fact that I was on camera to perform, to let people into my house and into my writing process has completely erased it. There was the general trepidation that people typically have before going on stage, but my anxiety evaporated! I felt as if a thousand hands held me and told me it's okay, it will be fine, I will be fine, because these were my readers here, and it was for them that I was writing my story. If you're a parent, remember those moments when you're tired and irritated and unhappy in those first months of having a baby, when your baby wakes you up in the middle of the night and you stumble to the crib to pick your baby up, but the second you sniff her head, feel her warmth, your tiredness evaporates and all you feel is love? Which is impossible, right? Given the circumstances. Yeah, that's how I felt. I felt like my self-loathing was chased away by the presence of my readers, by their warmth and willingness to spend their time watch me create. For them. Truly, it felt divine.
I couldn't go as deep into my characters, kept snapping back. Although it is hard for me to start writing, once I do, I enter a stage of some kind of a creative flow, when even when interrupted, my eyes stay glazed over as if I'm not here but in my story, talking the language of my characters, seeing through their eyes, remembering with their minds. Today I couldn't quite do it. I would constantly feel like someone is watching me, that I have to take care of that someone, to perform for, to make feel good, to answer questions, to interact, to look nice, whatever. The entire session lasted about 5 hours and by the end of it I stopped caring and finally got into my typical flow, but it was triple hard. Overall, I didn't manage to snap into my story fullly the way I usually do. The worst part was continuity. Usually when I write, I notice mistakes, trace back in my brain the path of the story, then scroll back through the manuscript to find a particular place with information on particular details, then walk away from my laptop and maybe graze on hazelnuts in the kitchen while thinking how to connect the dots, and usually within a few minutes it comes to me. Not today. I felt like I couldn't step away because people would be coming to an empty screen, and that unnerved me, and I couldn't quite dig deep into my mind because a portion of it was occupied with sensing that extra presence of extra people in the room. Could I get used to it? I bet! It would take a while, though.
Alone no more, together forever. The most humbling part of the whole experience hit me towards the end, when I grew conformable enough to go into my zone, when I even managed to get deep into one of the emotional scenes and cry a little. You might call this totally cheesy, go ahead, it totally was, but people were sending me messages about how they wanted to give me a hug right now, a real hug, and that made me cry even more, because what was happening was a miracle, and it had 4 layers, so I experienced a kind of a quadruple love. The first level was my own experience that I drew from, my first love when I was 15, my first kiss and the intense emotions connected with it, which served as the basis for the scene. The second one was the love exchanged between Ailen and Hunter, my two characters who are in love and can't be in love, because she is a siren and he is a siren hunter (and, of course, just the idea alone how they can't be together always makes me want to cry). The third one was the real love expressed to me by my readers through those quick messages on Ustream, and they felt so real, like they were next to me. And the fourth one was my love towards my readers, expressed in a way of creating something for them to experience, which in turn grew from my past. This quadruple connectedness blew my mind, and, you guessed it, made me cry even more! I know, I'm a cry baby, so what, it felt awesome!
To summarize, what happened today gave me an incredible high in a sense of being able to share the creation of my story with those for whom I was creating it, LIVE. It was like giving birth to something magical together, and it made me realize that no story is ever written by one person. It takes a village, it truly does, because even if the author has written a book in complete isolation, the book itself has been drawn from countless experiences with other people that author had. Moreover, this experiment prompted two other bloggers write about it. Here are their posts, Truly Inspirational by David Eccles and Writer Voyeurism by Fran Mallory.
Guess what, I WILL DO MORE LIVE WRITING! Here is my Ustream channel. Stay tuned.