Staying true to character(s)

"Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them are necessary; otherwise, they wouldn't be in the play. Embrace them all, and move on to the next act." - Wayne Dyer

So I’ve been working on this damn graphic novel for quite some time now. Some of you may know about it already, though I’ve been somewhat hesitant to share my progress with people. As someone with a long, frustrating history of not finishing things, I try not to get overly excited about these types of projects until I find myself past the “point of no return”; when I know for sure that I’ll cross that seemingly elusive finish line.

I’m happy to report that I am past that point with this three-part sci-fi story, of which the first draft of part one has just recently been completed. It’s a personal tale, and the first long-form story I’ve truly tried my hand at, called “The Ones Adrift”.

As you may imagine or already know, writing is a long process, and quite grueling for an overthinking perfectionist like myself. With anything I’ve ever written - blog articles, marketing copy or even short poems - I’ve always struggled at finding the absolute perfect way to get my point across. Words don’t just flow out of me, as they may with other, more experienced and/or naturally gifted writers. I’ll often obsess over the smallest details for hours upon hours, forcing words out until they either make perfect sense, or don’t (see “not finishing things” point above...also see how long it’s been since I last wrote something on here - sorry).

And so, with this damn graphic novel, one that’s already pushing 14,000+ of these hard-to-come-by words and with many more to go - it’s been a difficult story to tell. In fact, I can’t think of a greater challenge that I’ve willingly inflicted upon myself, that I’ve also come this close to completing. I feel good about it thus far, but quite honestly I’m also surprised at myself for getting to this point. I’ll sometimes literally ask myself, “how have I not given up yet, as I have with so many other big challenges I’ve faced in life?”

The answer, though it took me a while to find, is quite simple, yet also insightful - it’s the characters in the story that keep me going.

I mentioned that this is a personal tale. Ironically, while the personal nature of this project is another reason why I’ve struggled with it, it’s also the exact reason why I haven’t given up on it yet. The world I’m writing about is my world, and within it are several characters that serve to bring it to life. Where have they derived from, really? Why have they shown up here in the first place? What do they want? Where do they want to go? Are they good? Bad? Over time, I’ve gotten to know each of them quite well, and they’ve even gotten to know each other. Together, as strange as it may seem, we’ve formed some of the most supportive relationships that I’ve ever been part of. We depend on one another to move forward.

Now, I’m not some crazy person with multiple personalities. I know what I’m saying here. But I consider who these characters are; what they mean to me: the wise mother, the estranged best friend, the “voice of reason” love interest, the old, witty bartender, etc. They were originally my characters, yet I somehow feel as though they’ve evolved to stand on their own. They now hold identities, discover their own truths and make their own decisions. And just as much as I’m the one telling their stories, they’re now telling mine just the same (luckily, not all of them are overthinking perfectionists like myself).

And so, these “characters” and I - we’re now on this journey together, depending on one another to finish what we started and tell this damn story.

Stay tuned for more updates on “The Ones Adrift” in the coming months.