Digging Deeper: What It Means To Julie
TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut. I made it up.
For those who know me, I have been very quiet recently, haven’t I? For those who really know me, you know I have been tirelessly editing Running Home. You have seen my short stories, probably know my mouth on Twitter, but I assure you, Running Home shows a different side of me. One I have protected for a long, long time without really knowing it.
Kristen nips at me often to stop making changes to the novel. It is unbelievable to have someone that you trust that way to tell you that your novel is good just the way it is, and not to listen to everybody. I am not one to take criticism personally. Kristen actually thinks I greet it with too much enthusiasm…every suggestion I take with an “I can do that!” go forwardness. But when it came to this particular critique, I shied away, mentally ran screaming, and denied the need for it:
Dig deeper. .
I have known my MC, Ellie Morgan for 5 years. She doesn’t “speak” to me, the way other writers claim happens, I am her boss. She is part of me, and I am the controlling part. She came to me when I needed her most as an outlet for my fear of change, my fear of death, my fear of failure. After I had a baby. To think that I hadn’t poured myself into her enough to make her someone readers connect with was not only painful, it was absolutely terrifying.
You hear the phrase “dig deeper” all the time when it comes to critiques, and it never bothered me, until it was applied to Ellie. I have edited Running Home to perfection, in my opinion. I have made it exactly what I want it to be. I felt finished, done, laid out. Exposed to a degree.
Because without ever saying as much, Ellie has my own overwhelming fear of death. It’s the only thing that I truly feel I cannot conquer, the one thing that has stripped me of so much. It’s something that has become so much a part of me, to put it out in novel form, risking rejection of my very imagination, was a welcome difficulty. You see, I am not one to give in to much of anything.
Ellie’s also representative of my feeling that I am meant for something I will never find. The idea that I cannot even express my disjointedness from the world is a difficult failure to admit to. And failure is right up there in things that scare me a bit. I know in my heart that I hesitate at success for fear it won’t happen. For fear that I will see my limits, and they won’t be good enough.
So when I was told to “dig deeper,” I was spent. It sent me into a depression that is still painful to think on. Insomnia, pointless crying, lack of energy, weird eating patterns, clingyness, it was all there. I finally had to face something that I never wanted to belive. It was no longer scary to think of my fear of failure, my fear of never finding my true purpose, even my bone-deep fear of inevitably being abandoned by the people I love.
My real fear in making Ellie deeper was that maybe, just maybe, there was nothing else. She was me, and I had finally been, ultimately, just not good enough.
What if this was all the depth I had? What if I was that surface that there was no more of me to give? Had I finally really reached my limit, and had nothing else to offer? Was there something in me that I would never be able to find? Is this all there is? No amount of soul searching to uncover my hidden depths was as painful as thinking I just didn’t have any.
So, following a month long, in-depth, heart-rending re-reading of Running Home, I think I have finally nailed it. And maybe the most important lesson in all of this for me, is that if you don’t find Ellie compelling enough, then you don’t find me compelling either.
And I know myself better than that. I hope you all want to know, too.