Second Thoughts

I’m often troubled with insomnia.  Experts warn against lying awake for hours on end. They suggest insomniacs get up and “do” something useful. What the experts forget though, is that bed is cozy and comfortable. Getting up requires leaving those warm blankets and stumbling around in the dark and cold. I’d rather lie in bed, even if I’m not asleep. My compromise is to “think” something useful, while enjoying the comfort of my pillow. Sometimes I write letters in my head, or draw up a plan of action for the next day. Often, I think about my work in progress. That’s what prompted today’s blog.

While lying in the dark as the minutes ticked over I mulled the writing so far and came to the conclusion that my heroine was too bland. I’d tried to make her shy and nervous, but I’d given her a profession that required assertiveness and skill. The two aspects of her character were not working together. I came up with a solution. In her working life she is capable and cheerful. Only around one family member do her insecurities come to the fore. This solution pleases me no end, even though it means I must go back through the pages already written and incorporate the character changes. I’m sure I’ll like my heroine better.

One of the ways I’ll show the two opposing facets of her character is through letters to her sister. Here’s a sample.

You’ll have to laugh, Chastity when you read about my first day. I arrived travel-stained and smeared with mud. I found two mad men in the hospital entrance, one hopping about and shrieking like a banshee, the other brandishing a pistol. I didn’t know whether to interfere or run for my life. I chose to act. If Florence Nightingale can nurse soldiers in a war zone, I can dress wounds in a mining town.  As it turns out, the man with the pistol is the doctor.. . .

She paused in her writing to chuckle as she imagined Chastity’s shock upon reading this tale. Then she sobered. Chastity was a kindred spirit, sharing Verity’s sense of the ridiculous and view of the world. She could happily live with that sister. But Moira . . . Levity vanished as she considered her youngest sister, scarred, dour, and difficult and all Verity’s fault.

Does that excerpt give you a hint of Verity’s character and her conflict? I’d love to see you comments.

How do you spend sleepless nights?

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  1. Laura Langston

    Ohh, this is intriguing, Alice. I’d read on for sure to learn more about Verity’s conflict and angst around her sister, Moira! As for sleepless nights, I share your reluctance to pull myself away from the comfort of those covers. But unlike you, I can’t let myself think too much otherwise I’d never get back to sleep. So I usually imagine myself on a warm beach somewhere . . . without a care in the world . . . and a good book in hand.

    • Alice Valdal

      Lol, Laura. Love the idea of a warm beach and a good book. I’d probably stay awake figuring out the best travel plan!

  2. Diana

    I am also interested in learning more about Verity’s relationship with her sister. Just watched a popular TV show last night where a gifted surgeon visits her difficult adult siblings and they revert back into their teenage roles – the sisters turn into absolutely awful mean girls and list off every negative thing they can think of, neatly boxing their sister into their preconceived notions. I expect this is to try and make themselves feel superior. I’ve seen a similar situation closer to home as well, but thankfully not in my family!

    As for sleep, I have an almost foolproof method for getting to sleep, and it also involves a beach! I visualize myself walking onto a beach somewhere sunny and warm. I imagine the feeling of the hot sand on my feet and how it feels between my toes. I look out and see the waves on the ocean. I imagine the smell of the salt air and the light, warm breeze. I walk out, visualizing every aspect in minute detail. I usually don’t get to the water because I’m asleep already!

    The trick, I believe, is to activate whatever part of your brain forms pictures in your mind, and I don’t use words at all in the process. It’s a lot like dreaming.

    • Alice Valdal

      Thanks for the sleep tricks, Diana.
      As for Verity and her sister, I’m having fun letting Moira be as nasty as can be. I’m always aggravated by fictional characters who make irrational decisions, but as an author, they’re fun to write. 🙂

  3. Rachel

    I’m so intrigued by your story already! I love characters who act, even if they’re afraid. Maybe especially if they’re afraid.

    • Alice Valdal

      Thanks for the comment, Rachel. As a person who waffles a lot in real life, I have to work at making my characters decisive but it feels good when they get in there and fight. 🙂

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