Something really interesting has happened as I work consistently on Baby Love. I’m struggling with the words to describe it, and oh wow, that just feels like a really big problem for a writer. Struggling with words! Gasp! But that is supposed to be your strength, she cries to herself. It’s true, though. I’m having trouble explaining what, precisely, is happening inside my heart and mind these days.
To be totally truthful, I’ve been aboard Ye Ol’ Struggle Bus as I’ve watched my friends and former co-workers engage once more in the lively world of racing. The season has fired up again, and so much is happening. We are approaching race two of 24 this weekend, and by ‘we’ I mean ‘they,’ ahem. There are so many things I would really enjoy being part of out there, but there is also so much that I am super grateful to have left behind.
I could harp on this forever. I probably will. You will tire of my lamentations, dear reader, of this I am certain. And so I will attempt to restrain myself from blah blah blahing you to tears with how much I miss that super-fast world and the thunderous excitement of drag racing.
I really do want to tell you about this interesting thing that has happened, so allow me to begin again.
Baby Love has meant something to me from the beginning, but it was always just this story that I wanted to tell. I felt compelled, I was driven toward expelling it from my mind and heart, and it was almost like it wasn’t something I could control. I had to write this story. No choice. It was going to come out of me at some point, like the alien that busts through that guy’s belly in that creepy 1979 movie. Hmmmm. That’s an analogy I really don’t feel very good about, now that it’s on paper. That movie gave me some serious nightmares as a kid, but hey, it’s a good visual, right?
Anyway. Baby Love was always just a story – until this week, when I somehow fell into it. I think I told you all before that the characters were beginning to feel real, which does sound a bit weird, except that I want them to be real for you. If I don’t believe them, why would the reader? The characters must be relatable and believable, and I feel as though through development I am achieving that, but I’m also seeing the story from the inside now. That’s a crazy feeling, but it’s crazy-good. It makes it so much fun, and I suspect I’m supposed to feel that in order for the book to be worthy of your time.
It’s like this: I have a very dear friend who is a writer but also works on racecars and has been a racecar driver, himself. He has been part of racing all of his life and is very well known in that world. This man is an incredible writer, but I am most fascinated by his presence on the starting line. I loved watching him watch the racecars, because he is so clearly in the run. He isn’t really observing the car power down the quarter-mile, he IS the car and the driver and the racetrack all at once. He lives the run as it happens, and you can see it by the way he moves with the car though his feet remain planted.
Lately, I have come to know what that feels like. As I have gotten to know the characters, I have actually felt sad about what I know is going to happen to some of them – but happy and excited, too, about the good things ahead. I can’t believe I’m the lucky fortuneteller who gets to lay it out for them. It’s a privilege to be here. I’m not a character, no, but I’m most certainly inside the book, feeling the feelings and caring about these people and their lives. I care about what happens at the finish line. I care about what happens after, and I can even see the next race now.
Before, the story was just an idea that I kept kind of trying to squint at and decipher. What was blurry and questionable is now very clear and defined, and I am grateful for this transition. I know it won’t always be this vivid, though. Writing is like that. Heck, life is like that. But right now I am very thankful to be in the story.