Posts Tagged ‘liza caruthers author’

Obnoxious people from my brain…

October 15, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how those darn characters we invent and invest in can turn on us.  Sometimes it’s no big deal… no bigger a deal than when someone flips you off on the highway.  You’re mad about it, but only for a few minutes and then it fades from your memory.  Other times it’s like a beloved, dear dog suddenly turns and attacks you, and you end up in the emergency room and find out you have rabies and fleas and mange and distemper, all from that dog you fed and nourished and loved and gave your precious time to…

 So those characters in that story I was writing?  You know the one where they fall in love after two previous breakups in a magical kingdom, etc.?  Well, the story started out swimmingly!  They were young, in love, passionate… the supporting characters were funny and fun and clever.  I believed in the love and the magic and the desire…

 Then the betrayal!  Oh no!  Such pain!  Yeah, that part worked too.  Even when they got back together again, unable to resist their love, it was ok.  And when he was sent off to the front lines to defend the kingdom, and she had to stay behind in the palace to defend the king… yes it was good!  Acceptable, anyway.

 But then he came back, disillusioned and on the run, ready to go rogue, and take his love with him.  Yet she refused.  He may have seen horrid things on the battlefront, but she had achieved a place of status and stature with the king!  How could he ask her to give all that up now?  So they separated, hearts broken… and then oy vey.

 My heroine sits on her fainting couch, hart shorn in hand, vinaigrette by her side, lace hanky drifting to the floor, saying “Ah me!” about a thousand times (or the equivalent).  My hero sets his steely stare out on the horizon, his chiseled jaw set, unsmiling, as he silently vows never to love again.

 And I just know she will get advice from a wandering Gypsy fortune teller.  He will listen to the wisdom of his sagacious old valet.  And somehow this book which began so promisingly, has become a melodrama written in the purple prose of 1895.

 So I was perturbed, then I was disappointed, and now I pretty much am resigned to setting this story among the others… you know the ones.  Back burner tales.  Spare novels to work on when I have nothing else going on.

 But that’s the breaks, really!  Life happens, and the muse comes and goes like luck.  I’m not mad at the muse, or even at myself.  Or really even at those silly characters and how far they have fallen in my esteem.  I already have something new and fecund in my head, fermenting and brewing up characters with backbones, with modern voices, with vision.  That’s how it goes!  And that’s one of the reasons I love writing!


The words that bite

August 8, 2012

Have you ever read something that immediately brought tears to your eyes?  Yes, I know.  We all have.  It’s wonderful and terrible at once.  Like certain melodies that wrench your heart, reaching back into your subconscious and the sound of pain.

Some of them do it to everyone who reads them.  Remember the first time you read Robert Hass’s poem “A Story About the Body,” and you got to that ending line?  I defy your heart to not have leapt to your throat.

Coming across such lines is a shock to the system, a reset of the brain’s programming.  It’s like coming across that one picture… you know the one kept in a box, way in the bottom because you can’t risk looking at it more than a few times a year… that shocks you every time with the raw emotion it represents.  Good or bad emotion, doesn’t matter.  Your soul swallows hard and, like a tortilla chip going down sideways, you just have to wait for it to pass.

When I read Phantom of the Opera (which was honestly a fairly execrable book, even for the purple prosy era in which it was written), the line “I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears… and she did not die!  She remained alive, weeping over me, with me.  We cried together!  I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!” really stopped me… and now I can’t recall why.  But I wrote it in my little book and have gone back to it many times when I’ve felt the lack of inspiration.

Maybe the words speak to things we would like to say to someone, or have whispered in our ears.

I read something that brought me to that breathless edge recently, and it’s still unclear to me why it was so affecting!  Cheryl Strayed ( was asked by one of her readers what advice she’d give her twenty-year-old self.  Cheryl replied, “Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

Dang it, I’m not even really sure what it means!  But it struck a chord inside me, in a minor key no less, and I feel quite knocked about by it.

So what lines brought you to your metaphorical knees (or real ones for that matter!)?