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THE OBSIDIAN… and why I cried when I let this book go

Hunter Cade Mystery: Book 2

Hunter Cade Mystery: Book 2

After nine months of excruciatingly hard work, the new novel has finally passed out of my hands, and is making it in the big wide world all by itself. I find releasing a book a moment that comes with mixed emotions. Elation, excitement, anticipation, anxiety and most of all sadness. I’ve reached the end of a long, emotional journey with friends I bonded with along the way. The relationship a reader forms with the characters they read about, or a writer forms with those they create, is every bit as real as the relationships we forge whilst dealing with living, breathing people.

Rachel Nuwer’s article: The Psychology of Character Bonding: Why We Feel a Real Connection to Actors (http://www.thecredits.org/2013/07/the-psychology-of-character-bonding-why-we-feel-a-real-connection-to-actors) explains the phenomenon of bonding with fictional characters brilliantly, it’s well worth a read, and had me going Ah, yes. Now I understand. Basically, readers, and writers, invest a great deal of emotion (and time) in reading a novel (or watching a film) in the same way we invest emotional energy and time in cultivating friendships. Empathy and Sympathy – emotions we experience daily in our real lives – Nuwer tells us, are key to the way we respond to fictional characters.

Howard Sklar, from the University of Helsinki, (http://blogs.helsinki.fi/hes-eng/volumes/volume-5/believable-fictions-on-the-nature-of-emotional-responses-to-fictional-characters-howard-sklar/) attempted to show that despite there being differences in how readers respond to real-life people versus how they respond to fictional characters, the psychology of both shares important similarities. I use reader and writer interchangeably, although the experience may very well be more intense for the creator of a work. As a voracious reader too, I know certain characters, Will Trent created by Karin Slaughter for example, resonate with me beyond any of the books I’ve read with them in, but my own characters – Hunter, Jesse, Toby K – they’re like my children (and I have several real ones so I know what I’m talking about). I am responsible for them and their journeys and when a leg of their journey comes to a close, it’s like a chapter in my own life has ended and of course that sense of loss, of grieving for something I have lost, affects me when I scan the last few words for typos or bad spelling, and flip the last page over onto the pile. It rushes out of me, that sense that THIS IS OVER.

When I sit down to start a book, I have already spent several months – if not years – with the characters I am going to write about bobbing around inside my head. I have laughed with them, cried with them, worked out how to make their lives harder, before trying to make it better. They have grown into fully fledged beings in their own rights and, although I know they aren’t real, for all intents and purposes, to me, they are. When I reached the end of The Obsidian, just as I had done when I reached the end of the first novel Affliction, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss, as if a good friend – or friends – had passed on. Even the bad guys I grieve for, it is common in my household for someone to laugh about how I can’t let my bad guys go. People say writing is a lonely endeavor – and for the most part, it is – but in some ways it isn’t. I’ve made lots of friends and I can’t wait to experience the next leg of their journey with them – and hopefully, with you.

If you’d like to meet Hunter Cade and Jesse Rider, check out AFFLICTION from Amazon, and the latest Hunter Cade Mystery THE OBSIDIAN, is also out now. http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=heidi+cieciura

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Filed under Art of Writing, The Writing Process

POSITIVITY

Sometimes, thinking positively is the hardest thing in the world to do.

I approached the New Year with a mind full of the best intentions. I was going to continue my lifelong dream of being a published author by putting everything I had into writing and editing the next two or three installments in my Hunter Cade series, plus I was going to develop a new series. I was going to dive into a fitness plan that was not only  going to see me eating more healthily and losing the three stone I managed to put on whilst getting my BA (Hons) in English, but was also going to increase my barely existent self-esteem levels immeasurably. I was going to become the person I always thought I could be, now that I had overcome a mountain full of challenges.

Then January first came.

I felt awful.

I’ve had an ankle injury that wasn’t improving and was making any kind of exercise painful and so therefore, I told myself, I had to wait to start the fitness program I had been so excited to get going in December. I sat down to continue the novel I had begun before the Christmas break and found it impossible to muster up any enthusiasm for it. I love the story. I loved the story. Something wasn’t sitting right in me. What was wrong? I knew it wasn’t bad, so then it must be me. My connection with everything I wanted to achieve this year had somehow been broken between cooking the turkey and listening to the fireworks going off on New Year’s eve. Was I suffering from the January blues? Or did I just not have what it took to take control of my life and make the improvements I wanted to make?

This is the part when I should be telling you how I overcame my dip in motivation, how I became inspired again, or discovered something that put me back on a motivational track. I can’t. I haven’t. I didn’t. As I’m writing this I still can’t grasp the thread of positivity I need to be certain I can achieve my goals for 2015, but I did make a small breakthrough. I realised that good or bad, I was a writer, and the best way to deal with my slump was to write. I had my ankle checked out and I’m fine to exercise so first thing next week I’m adding that to my schedule, I’ve already gone through magazines and cookbooks and found some great, healthy recipes. The work in progress: I’ve learned writing isn’t magical, not on the surface. It’s hard work. It takes commitment and determination and quite often inspiration is a flighty bird you have to actively go out there and catch. You catch it by working. Then the magic creeps in.

I don’t know how this year is going to end, none of us do. But I do know I can control how I let my lack of positivity affect me. So as soon as I’ve finished here I’m going to head straight back to the draft which knocked my confidence, and I’m going to work on it. Taking some inspiration from Hunter Cade, I can control what I do just like I can control who I am.¬† The January blues, or just a knock in confidence, either way I’m going to continue striving to achieve my goals, battling through the fug until I find the magic.

There. I feel more positive already.

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Filed under Art of Writing, Motivation, Novel Inspiration, The Writing Process