Usually, I am the least spontaneous person you could find. No one is less spontaneous than I am. I plan all my activities as far in advance as I can and usually know what I am doing for the whole day by the time I go to bed the night before. If I wake up in the night, I usually run over my plans for the morning and day ahead of me.
Yet now and then, especially when shopping, an impulse will grab me and not let go. An impulse to take my dog to the local dog park, even though she hates that. An impulse to clean a room, even though it’s not on the schedule until next week. An impulse to write a new story idea, even though I am facing deadlines on what I have in progress right now.
I impulsively volunteer to read advance copies of my writer friends’ books. I impulsively start pulling weeds in the yard when I need to clean the kitchen. And I impulsively shop online for things I can’t possibly afford.
Due to the loss of a very important person in my life, I have been adrift in my story worlds and not at all attending to the chapters I need to edit or write. In the Regency era that I love to write about, women were being widowed regularly, mothers were left without husbands and sons, and sisters would never see their beloved brother again. For all the pain of my situation, I now have veracity to put into my writing.
When my niece lost her husband at a very early age, I sent her a book called Good Grief. I loved that book but apparently, it didn’t resonate with her. Now I perhaps see how individual grief is. No two people will react the same way, so no two characters should display identical reactions.
Most of us have heard of the stages of grief that survivors go through. Maybe a character gets stuck in one stage, disbelief, and can’t move past that. He or she walks around in a daze, unclear on what to do next. Waiting to wake up from the nightmare. On impulse, they visit the grave of their lost loved one. They read the headstone over and over, shaking their head, unaccepting.
One day, a ray of sunshine will return to that blighted life and time will move forward again. Plans will make sense once more. Projects will move forward at last. On impulse, they will find a beating heart, a curious mind, and a bruised but healing spirit. Going on finally seems possible.
Maybe a little spontaneity will creep in, as well. Because then there’s a chance for a moving, amazing story to be told. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.