I have a natural affinity for old women.
Not just any old woman, a very specific breed. I’m transfixed by their mannerisms, the way they carry themselves, their perceived comfort with life.
When I started writing my first Novel this fall, there was no struggle in finding who my protagonist would embody – a wise old woman named Dorrit. She is earthy and free, she suffered a turbulent past but carries a confidence that you can’t miss. I was in love with Dorrit. I am in love with Dorrit.
While building D, I also had to build a young woman (Clary) so that the reader could experience D vicariously through flashback scenes because D was not actually alive. As I wrote D into being, I began to slowly dislike C more and more. She possessed qualities that I became irritated by and responded to challenges immaturely.
I mean, yes, I understand, I was writing her – I built her, I could have just changed this. But there is truth to the story writing itself, as some writers will claim.
I struggled to find the misbelief in my story. A misbelief is a false belief about life that the protagonist carries. The misbelief is often what causes the character to face challenges and struggle.
“I urge you to come to a place where you appreciate your protagonist- her weaknesses and strengths.”
My writing mentor helped me trudge my way through it. We brainstormed, scraped, and made story arches on the back of computer paper with comic stories on the back.
I love Dorrit, but she lost the first place position. She is no longer my protagonist. It is no longer her story.
You see, in the few weeks leading up to my final manuscript submission, I rewrote my entire story. I honed in on C’s misbelief and focused on building momentum for her life. As I considered her actions and words, I began to appreciate where she was coming from. She was a woman like me. I began to see myself in C. I realized that some of the reason I didn’t like her in the first draft was that I saw myself in her.
As much as I love older women, I walked away from this process of writing accepting who I am a little bit more, as a young woman figuring out who she is. I pressed submit with more compassion for my own brokenness.