Addictions and Interventions
They come in different packages.
In a dream, I find myself entering a uncomfortable, but familar room, a windowless basement. In this dank space, ten other slack-jawed, baggy-eyed people sit in a circle and stare at one another, each waiting for the other to break the silence. Their faces turn as I take a seat in a vacant chair within the circle.
This isn’t my first rodeo, so I knew this day was coming. I take a breath and say, “My name is Jim and I’m an…”
Before I can finish, a guy cuts me off. “This ain’t that kind of meeting, jackass.” He leans forward, elbows on his knees and the man is familiar, but I can’t quite place him. He’s wearing a greasy mechanic’s shirt with the name, Vince embroidered over one pocket.
“You remember me?” he says. He gestures to the rest of the people in the circle, “We are all concerned about what you’ve been doing.”
I smell an intervention. I begin to rise from my seat, “I don’t need this. I’m fine and who the hell are you guys to tell me what to do? I don’t even know you.” I’m pissed at this point and ready to leave these Hippie do-gooders and their intervention. One of the men from the circle gets up and blocks the door. I recognize a scar on his face and the tattoo that runs down his thick neck. I know that scar because I put it there.
“You’re not leaving until we get you straight,” the scarred man says.
I glance over my shoulder at the group and notice some of them are freakish and disfigured. One has no mouth, another is flat and transparent. A third has a bullet wound in the center of his chest. A glint of recognition must have formed because the scarred man pushed me toward them.
I try to resist, but it’s impossible. I have no strength in this place. I want to wake up. “Wake up, wake up wake up.”
“You did this.” The scarred man ran a fingertip across his damaged face. “You did this to all of us.”
They are all book characters I’ve created and abandoned, killed off, or worse – deleted altogether.
Vince steps through the crowd. “You left us here to rot and went on a Netflix binge.”
“No, I haven’t forgotten about you,” I say.
“Really? You’ve written exactly dick since you finished that manuscript last month. You know, that book where you decided you didn’t need us.”
“It’s not like that, I swear.”
“Don’t even try and tell us it’s okay to kill your darlings, because it ain’t,” Vince says. “Whatta you plan on doing about it?”
“I’ll start a new book, I will. I promise.”
Scarred Man pushes from behind. “I say we stuff him in a closet like he done to us.”
Vince steps close enough for me to smell the white out on his breath. “You have an addiction to Netflix and its gotta end, now. No more binge watching The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Arrow, The Tomorrow People, Daredevil, or Haven. Get your ass back in your writing chair and put words on the screen.”“It’s research.”
“You start writing about a zombie apocalypse and we got problems,” Vince says. “Go write.”
“I’m deciding what to write next, I’ve got a few ideas.”
“Your ideas mean exactly jack here. If you don’t start by cutting back on the Netflix and write, you are gonna regret it.”
“You keep putting us off and you won’t only see us in your sleep. We’re gonna start popping up in daydreams and then into your life until you crack from the pressure. Write or die, they say. In your case, write or get the nice white jacket with the extra long sleeves.”Scar Man backed away from the door. “You been warned. Now go finish you shit.”
I bolt awake in bed and realize that it’s only a dream. Then my hand brushes against a notepad. That pad was’t here when I went to bed. It’s open to the first page. In my handwriting, it says “Finish Your Shit.”
Ever have conversations with your characters? Or am I the only one afflicted with this madness?
Now that’s nightmare. Characters you’ve killed off coming back to life. A crime writer’s worse fear.
The crime fiction leftovers can come and haunt us Sue!
You make a strong case for a parellel universe. Do you authors actually believe you make your stuff up?
I’d prefer to think I’m making things up because if the voices are real, then I’m in big, big trouble…
I’ve never killed off a character – now you’ve got me a little scared! I can totally identify with a post pub Netflix orgy!
You’ve never, ever, killed off a character? Come on…try it. You know you want to. Its terribly liberating… (Said in my best Hannibal Lecter voice).
James, I am going to kill one of my characters so after I do I will let you know if they came back to “get” me.
Mine pop up when I’m writing something else and a little snippet of dialogue comes out in that “dead” character’s voice. Kind of like some channeling – a little disconcerting at times. Let me know when you have a visitor from beyond.
Clever. But creepy.
Thanks, Diane…and yeah, it could be a bit creepy so treat your characters well. What’s really creepy is the straight jacket is actually on Amazon.com.