Last weekend, the New York Times Book Review section had an article about what authors do Between Books by Ann Packer. In it she said sometimes she has trouble moving on with new books because of characters. Not that she wants to hang out with them longer, but because she is “giving up the ease I developed with writing them.”
As I work to finish my first big novel, I understand. My characters are like my old cat was in the last years of her life. We ebb and flow around one another. I know why and when a particular voice is used. We’ve settled into our daily routine. We have an understanding. It’s easy.
New characters are like puppies and kittens. When they’re “on” it can be chaos. They don’t always go where it makes sense. They don’t speak or participate properly in the environment I’ve created for them. There’s a bit of cursing, and certainly training. On their part and mine.
Given this notion, my goal is to enjoy these last few moments with my old characters. My protagonist who was a young, eager pup–he’s now a great travel companion who comes with me to the office every day. My antagonist, who started out simpering like Snidely Whiplash, has grown into a lovable mutt (who has gotten mean as he got older, sadly).
And I’ll enjoy the ease of their company before I find myself laying down papers for my new pets ahead.
. . . . . . . . . .
And this week we say goodbye to a great character. Bandit. The little dog who lived (and worked) next door to me in Paris. He had a long, happy life with Dorothée, eating well at the crab shack and summering at the beach. He was featured in several entries, along with this picture, in my book Bonjour 40. Bandit, may there be unlimited bread wherever you are now. You certainly begged for enough of it in this life.