Black Moments

So I’m working on my present MIP (Manuscript/Monster/Mess/Migraine/Masterpiece In Progress–the acronym covers all my moods about a book during the writing of it) and hit this scene when I realize that the only thing that can happen next is that one of my heroes (I have 5–or 4, depending on how you count them) is about to have a “Black Moment”.

Now “Black Moment” is a term I picked up when I was writing Genre Romance. The Black Moment (not to be confused with any other kind of BM–though a person does usually feel better once it’s over) is that point in time when a character realizes that all their hopes, all their dreams, all their plans, all their actions has been for naught. That they are, in all ways that mattered, totally screwed. The tunnel they’ve been traveling has caved in around them so there’s not light ahead, there’s no going forward and there’s no going back. They are just royally f***ed.

And to write this small scene means that I have to write deep emotions. Of course, since it’s totally emotional, and such an emotional moment is critical to that character’s story and the book as a whole.

Lemme tell you, there is nothing harder for me to write that emotions, particularly deep emotions. I once told someone that I’d rather have my appendix pulled out through my ear than write this kind of scene. I don’t think I was joking.

See, I don’t deal well with my own emotions. My temperament is one of calm, easy-going, slightly jovial, but when something rocks that norm, I have few ways of dealing with it. Calm calm THUNDERSTORM calm calm calm TIDAL WAVE calm calm calm depressed calm calm calm — you get the idea. I’m kinda at the mercy of whatever emotion I’m experiencing for as long as it hangs on, then it’s gone. And, oft-times, I’m talking gone, as in I do remember that I was angry, frustrated, or whatever, but the sensations of having that emotion is lost to my memory. Rather like the pain of giving birth naturally–very intense while you’re going through it, but once it’s over, your mind can’t comprehend all the pain you were actually experiencing any more.

This is one of those things that I don’t know if I’m just weird about, if it has something to do with the way my Aspie brain is wired, or if it’s completely normal and I just never realized it. Not that it matters much; it’s the way I am wired, so it’s something that I have to find a way to deal with to do what I love to do.

So when it comes time to write something like emotion, it’s really hard. What makes emotion even more challenging is the fact that very few emotions are only really one emotions. There’s usually layers upon layers of emotions that make up what a person feels in any given moment.

For instance, for this particular “Black Moment”, my hero–Drais–realizes that he cannot fulfill a vow. It’s not just any vow, but one that’s magically tied into his very soul. He once vowed to help the Reborn King save the country any time he’s summoned. And this time is bad and Drais has finally gotten a good look at everything and–they can’t win. There is no way, militarily or even magically, that he can see that this country can be saved. It will be invaded and they cannot turn back the tide. They will lose for the first time in 100 generations.

My mind immediately leapt to the emotion of this realization: Depression. How can you realize that and not get depressed? But upon a great deal of thought and some good convo with writer friends, I realized that depression is the destination emotion, and there’s an entire journey before Drais can get there.

The beginning has the biggest challenge, ’cause that’s all a tangle of outrage (that cannot be true!) and something I’m calling ONYD (“Oh, no you didn’t!”) Ever have a situation where you’re at a job interview, or talking to people, and everything’s going great–and then something falls from your lips–something so tactless, inappropriate, so WRONG that you immediately realize that you just blew everything in a grand way? And you have that half-second of self-realization before everyone else reacts and pray no one’s gonna put that up on YouTube? (And if you haven’t, you’ve had a very blessed life and I envy you.) Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about with ONYD.

From there, anger will set in–though anger at what can vary–then resignation and, finally, depression.

And all of this has to be conveyed in a few short sentences, maybe a couple of paragraphs, because Drais is not an angsty character who will chew the scenery for a few chapters to make sure I’ve got every last nuance of his emotional make up onto the page.

So, yeah, it’s taken me close to two weeks to write this one little section of this scene because it’s hard to pull all the right words together, to get through my personal emotions as I’m trying to get back in touch with my own Spartan memories of such times, and then to make sure it all fits for the voice of the character who’s going through it on the page. And even though I got it written, I’m not sure I got it right, so I’m likely to have to go through it all again, and perhaps again and yet again. And maybe again, just to be certain.

There are times I sit and wonder “Why am I doing this–this whole writing thing–and why can’t I tell this story I love without going through this crap?” And I can give myself all kinds of answers, up to and including “Then just hang up the book and don’t finish it.” But, I know that’s not an option. I love this story. I love these characters–even more I like these characters. I’ve struggled with getting this book done for more than five years even though I’ve finished several other shorter things–even gotten one published–since I started. I have a commitment to this story and, by all I’ve ever held as sacred, I intend to do right by it and finish it. Which means I have to drag myself through such times and get the words down. It’s not so much that I owe it to the story, I owe it to myself. I’m at 97,000 words, so I’ve already gone through a lot with this book. I don’t want the feeling of failure if I walk away from it because I failed to recover from my own Black Moment.

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