I am haunted by a dead manwhore.
Don’t call the men in the white coats. I am perfectly aware that my manwhore ghost isn’t real. He’s just the main character in a novel I have been slowly editing … or not editing … for a year now.
Any fiction writer knows that while writing, your characters come to life in your brain. You have conversations with them. As you command them to do your bidding in your pages, they sometimes rebel and do their own things. If you follow them instead of yanking on their leash, those things often become the twists that take your story from good to great.
Writing fiction is strange. We breathe life into people who previously existed only in our heads. We’re like Doc Frankenstein. One wrong move and we’ve created a monster. No wonder our characters haunt us.
My book’s main character Jay gets whacked in the first chapter. In death, he haunts one of the few women who met him and didn’t fall for his lines. He bounces around naked, wagging his no longer functional man-bits until she agrees to help figure out who killed him.
Being haunted by such a character was hilarious. I’d be sitting in a painfully boring meeting or poring over some 20-page report-writing manifesto, and he would pop into my head. He’d bounce around butt-naked, mooning my brain until I jotted down that bit of dialogue he was determined to say so I wouldn’t forget about it when my writing time rolled around.
He still haunts me. But these days, his taunts are less amusing. I can hear the irritation in his voice. I have been avoiding him, and he’s getting pissed. The thing about a Manwhore is that they really like attention. Ignore them and they’re sure to be assholes.
This avoidance happens to many writers during the editing process. Let’s face it – editing our stories is nowhere near as much fun as creating them. Editing is grueling work. But my avoidance is more than that.
When I wrote Jay’s story, I was pretty high on life. I was getting back into writing seriously again after putting my dreams on the back-burner. I was inspired and determined. I was in a funny frame of mind. Although Manwhore’s story is one of murder and life after death, it is written with a whimsically humorous overtone.
That is “the hook” that I believe will make this book successful. It gives my supernatural mystery a unique feel, as if horror and mystery met South Park or Shameless and they had a baby.
I lost that whimsy when Mom got diagnosed with cancer. We all lost so much that October day. There wasn’t even time to think about my book. There is time now – sometime almost too much of it. I should be red-penning my manuscript at this moment instead of writing this.
But I’m not, because I’m not ready to read my book with the laughing eyes and funnybone friendly spirit in which I wrote it. I am better than I was. My whimsy returns for a few moments. But it is struggling for air, fighting through a mire of other thoughts and feelings.
The Manwhore character in my head gets pissed about this blog sometimes. He’s glad I’m writing again, but sometimes he sulks and says, “hey, bitch? Over here … what about me?” I’ve got a real good idea about how my female lead character feels when he won’t quit jabbing at her.
This post is my way of telling him that he hasn’t been forgotten. It may seem like I’m writing here to avoid him, but I’m not. I’m doing it to heal. I’m writing to pour myself back into a place where I can edit him in the same spirit that I wrote him.
I don’t expect to be the writer who created him ever again. She had known heartache and hardship but never gut-wrenching grief and pain. She was blessed. I am a different woman. Still blessed, but sadder and less idealistic and maybe more real. But none of that means I can’t find my whimsy again.
We will be back, Manwhore. You’re get your moment in the sun. You’ll be wagging your willie soon enough. Until then, keep haunting me. Those out-of-context smiles that sometimes steal across my face in the middle of a snoozefest meeting do still make my day.