Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Victoria Pitts-Caine

by Victoria Pitts-Caine

If you asked me what quiet meant, I would say, "The absence of sound." But, alas, not according to Webster: It is a calm, gentle, tranquil peace.

So if I take my philosophical self down the path of no sound at all, I can surmise that really never happens because there is always some sort of clatter somewhere. But if I take the writer me down that same path, I'm much more inclined to like what I find.

I like the soundlessness of me alone in the house. I like the shrouded deficiency of noise in the early morning of a foggy valley day. I like the nonexistent dearth in the car before I hit the radio button. During those times I plot, I summon, I contrive. I write without aide of a pen and paper or a keyboard and printer. Because it is quiet, I can also listen.

Sometimes I hear music. With the rise and fall of a symphony I can see the conductor encouraging the orchestra to bring out the sweetest notes to the crescendo of a piece. Similar to how I coax my characters to reach the zenith in a story. Other times I hear the blue waves swoosh against the sands on a coastal beach and believe I feel the salt-kissed wind on my face. I'll decide to give that sensation to the lonely heroine I'm creating.

There are other times when my mind plays a running video. I've always had a talent for retelling a movie I've seen with the greatest detail and I tend to keep little trivial items tucked away in some unknown drawer in my brain. When it is quiet, I can pull them out and watch the movie again or think about some idea that's been sparked at some point in my life and put away in that drawer for future use.

Now that takes me to another evident, easily misunderstood area in a writer's life, the clamor in my brain. At first I didn't hear them and really thought those who did were a little, you know, weird. But my stories are running around all the time begging to get out and my characters are telling me what to do with their lives when I put them into my stories.

I find the easiest way to invent a character or to talk with one I'm working with is to close my eyes and listen to them as I type their story. Most of my female characters have a little bit of me in them, so on occasion, we argue. I hear my characters tell me how they're going to solve their problems. The problems I introduced them to. I might just hear my heroine tell me, "It isn't fair you put that obstacle in my way but this is how I'm going to handle it -- you know on page forty-two when you have my heart broken by Mr. Right. Well, I'm going to just tell him off."

Okay. Now that's not the way I planned it, but it might work. I could go with that and I'll give it a try. If it doesn't solve the problem, I'll have another little chat with you later and I usually do.

My most interesting conversation with one of my characters came when I decided to do a sketch on him since I really didn't know who he was. I'd written him as a troubled young man with a colored past but I never really asked him what happened. We had a long session one day and he told me he was raised by alcoholic parents. When they were killed in an accident, he ran away before his grandfather could come for him. He thought he would be better off without family and soon realized at seventeen he couldn't make it on his own. He found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time during a robbery and was arrested. Unfortunately, he spent a great deal of his youth incarcerated. It wasn't until then that I could write him with the compassion I needed for him to be rescued.

The characters I hear most are of the female variety. They usually tell me what they want to look like or wear or who they'd like to meet. Many times their fears are either currently or have been my fears and we can relate. The male characters offer more of a challenge and I seem to have more pointed conversations with them asking questions and hoping for answers.

I don't think my brain is ever still. I used to think maybe, when I slept but then there's that dream thing which invents even more stories. Taking Webster's advice, I'll find a tranquil moment to have a calm inviting cup of tea and listen to the voices in my head.

You can visit Victoria at her website.


Sarita Leone said...

This is a great post. It's always so comforting for me to hear I'm not the only one with voices in my head. *G*

Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day!

Judy Thomas said...

Victoria, I think in our busy lives, remembering to take that time to seek the "quiet" is essential...not only to our writing, but for our own benefit. Thank you for this reminder.

Dru said...

Great post.

Brandy said...

Whether quiet is the absence of sound, or whether it fits Websters definition, it's always welcome. *G*

Victoria Pitts-Caine said...

Thanks Marianne for having me today and thank you to all of you who commented. I'm glad you like the little visit into my writing world.


Melinda G. Pitts-Pennington said...

Victoria (dear cousin), I wish I could write like you. Thanks for sharing with us. Melinda Pitts-Pennington