When I Write

I see it in my head like a movie. This is a very frustrating thing.

It started out that I would think of a word or a sentence. I would obsess over that until I could form a story around it. When I took my EVOC class, this rattled around in my head for a long time: "One light flickers incessantly in the corner, giving the already dim room lighting worthy of a B-list horror flick." I liked the way it sounded, so I knew I wanted to use it in a story. It had to do with the sound, with the images it provoked.

But now, as Sam develops, it has to do with the image and the words that provokes. It's really difficult, because I feel like I'm failing her, and I'm failing myself.

Sam stands shivering in the scalding hot shower, sobbing uncontrollably as she scrubs her body over and over. She's just taken a girl to the hospital her own age who was raped. I can't write this the way I see it. The noise of the water hitting the tiles in the bathroom of the bunk room in comparison to its muted sound outside...I can't write it. The way her mouth stretches into a tragic smile as she sobs because she feels as she is about to burst. The seafoam green tiles that wash her fair skin out even more, making her seem like a ghost as her frail body shakes. I can see it, but I can't write it.

Sam has a vein in her forehead that pops out whenever she smiles legitimately. She smiles a lot, but when that vein makes an appearance is when she really means it, when she's truly happy. I can come up with some dialogue about it, but I can't make it happen the way I see it in my head.

Sam sits in the passenger's seat on the way home from the hospital after a code. Her partner prattles on about it, about how well it went, and he makes some gallows humor sort of jokes. But she doesn't listen, she just stares out the window and tunes him out as she watches the houses fly by the window.

Sam calls her mom after a bad call. I want you to hear it in her voice...the message behind her words. I want you to see the way she hesitates when she dials the number, unsure of whether to bring her burdens to someone else, or if she should just deal with her demons herself.

I want you to see the way Sam sits up in bed, soaked in sweat, fear in her eyes. She's having that nightmare again, and she rocks herself back and forth as she slams her eyes shut. I want you to see the hair matted to her face, the blood rushing to her cheeks. I can write it all I want, but it never comes out the way I see it.

I want to see the pain in her eyes. I want to see the physical interaction between Sam and Drew that I can't write, the inflection in the voices I can't verbalize. When Sam corrects people that call her Samantha, I can hear how she says it. "It's Sam," she says as she holds out her hand as if to stop them. I can hear it, and you can too, but you can't hear it the way I do.

It's frustrating.

I see an image in my head, now, I don't think of words. I'm writing the image, and it's not going the way I want.

Maybe that's why I don't have so many Sam posts as of late. Janice is easy for me to write. I feel a part of myself in Janice, but she is easy to disconnect from; she isn't much like me.

Sam is my hero. Sam is the girl I wish I could be. She impresses me, she humbles me, and she aggravates the shit out of me. I want to shake her sometimes for various reasons, none of them I can really verbalize here.

But the thought of letting Sam down kills me. It doesn't have to do with letting myself down, really, it has to do with the idea of not doing the character of Sam justice.

I want to film Sam. I want to have dramatic lighting, and I want sound to play a huge part in it. I want you to be able to see the way the red lights get trapped in the fog, and I want you to be able to see it bouncing back off her face, bringing color to her pale skin.

But I can't.

So I apologize if Sam is a little absent right now. I need to drop this visual obsession and focus on the words. Maybe she'll come back to me. No, she will come back to me. She's too strong of a character not to.

So that's a little glimpse into my ridiculous mind that you didn't ask for or really need. But I felt the need to explain myself a bit? I may have just needed to explain that to myself, actually.


--The Author.
[I feel weird signing it "Sam," tonight, haha.]


Medix311 said...

I haven't been reading your blog very long, but your words have always painted a very vivid picture for me. I know I'd's a cliche, but we are often our own worst critic. Your words don't fail you, don't fail to capture the moment or the mood. You're a talented writer, very personal and honest in your words. Take pride in that. I admire your gift.

Fyremandoug said...

let your muse take a little vacation
its good for the inner you.

Evil Lunch Lady said...

Your "movie" played in my head when I read that:).....You are doing just fine:)

tracy said...

In my eyes, the "Sam" that i see is the Sam that you say you want to be and i betcha you really are...

i'm sorry about the call...that must have been a really rough one and i imagine you handled it with perfectly, as always.

You are my hero(ine)!!!!!

Medic 66 said...

I've been reading your blog for a while (just don't comment much -- sorry) and I have always found your writing to be incredibly visual and appeal to senses past vision as well (something film is rarely able to accomplish). Keep it up!

Farmgirl said...

Sam. The only way to write those things, is to write them. You've got a danged good start here.

The only way to figure out why you're not satisfied with them, and what needs to be improved, is to look at the scenes objectively (i.e. write it, put it the hell down and forget about it for a while, then go back) and/or get a critique partner to look at it.

Feel free to email me.

Silent Owl Scribe said...

Dear author,

Stop being so down about Sam. You are trying to make Sam, Samantha. You are trying to bring her out into the physical realm it seems, when all Sam is, is a wonderful, heroic piece of you. You do not like me responding to your posts, but you are writing her with tremendous yet human grace. I love reading to find out more about Sam. When I try to develop a character, I try to give them a human face. It is only natural.

Let me tell you something: every writer worth their salt have struggled over characters that they have written. You write a character that is so dynamic, has all of these different pieces within their own life, that is so wonderful...sometimes it may seem, the character is trying to attract you, to them...the character in your case being Sam.

Here is my remedy: You need to talk to Sam...out loud. It seems that Sam is trying to break away from you so bad that, it is almost to your advantage to allow Sam, her own space.

Honey, you are developing Sam wonderfully. Janice is easier because, you probably decided to just on the spur of the moment, decide to write Janice. You had no time to develop her beforehand. You just wrote. With Sam, you decided that you wanted to create this dynamic character that encompasses you in some manner.

As for this tiny thing about filming Sam, I can see that. Except, Sam would be you.

Just get her down on paper. Continue to write her. You will be frustrated. You are a writer...an artist-in-training. All of this means that, you are on your way to developing a character, that will stand out. Who will be a role model (in some way) to others. Just let her talk...you do the writing, and all will be well.

Take care.

Polar Doc said...

You can always call. I love the writing but love the calls even more.

Sam's mom said...

Remember that the book is always better than the movie...and your mom is always available after a rough call. You never have to be alone with the demons.

Chapati said...

You know what, just this post on its own paints a vivid picture of what Sam is like - it seems that her difficult experiences lately are leaving her drained for words, and that in itself says more to the reader than you realise.

Beaker said...

I know some writers think of their characters as their imaginary friends... it makes it easier to talk to their characters out loud and write what their characters want to say instead of what the writer wants to say.

Good Luck!