What My Characters Have Taught Me – Evelyn

This idea popped into my head, so I decided to go with it. This is the first post in a series about what I have learnt from my own characters. I have always held to the fact that when I write, I don’t ‘make-up’ my characters, they arrive, as fully formed people, and simply go about their business while I write down what’s going on. Because of this, they often do or say things that catch me a little by surprise, and that actually teach me something. I sometimes pick up my books and flick through, reading the odd sentence here and there, and quite often I am surprised by the little gems of wisdom that I find.

I’m featuring Evelyn in this first post, the lovely lady who we meet in PAM’s Tearooms at the very beginning of The Doorway to PAM. There is an exchange that occurs between her and the main character, Natalie, that I refer to quite often when I chat to people who are frustrated because they so very much want to help people, but find themselves hitting their heads against brick walls because their advice or help is going unheeded. The scene is at the end of Chapter One, and Natalie and Evelyn are sat on a bench in the park. Here’s the part that I love:

Evelyn chuckled. “We are all capable of so much more than we realise, my dear. The only limitations in our lives are self-imposed. Anything is possible.”  She let Natalie take this in for a moment, then she turned to look at her, her gaze serious. “All you have to do is believe that you can do anything, anything at all, and it is so. Now, the question is, do you want the job of helping others to realise this too?”

Natalie was quiet for a while. “That seems like an impossible task though. How on earth do I help everyone find their purpose? Help them to realise their own possibility?”

Evelyn shrugged. “The same way I do, my dear. You wait for them to come to you. You see, it’s no good going out there and trying to help people who don’t ask for it. They won’t listen. Even if you can see they are struggling, even if you know what would help them, what would be best for them, they won’t listen until they’re ready. When they’re ready, they will come and find you.” She smiled. “Just like you came to find me.”

The part that I have highlighted above, is that part that really struck me. As someone who loves to help people, I find it frustrating when I can see where I could make a difference, but the person concerned won’t listen or heed my advice. And as Evelyn says, it’s no good going out and helping people who aren’t ready. You have to wait for them to come to you. Which does require patience, and which does require a great deal of strength too, because it’s not easy watching other suffer, but ultimately, if you wait until someone is ready and open to your help, you will ultimately make a much bigger difference in the long run, and you will also save yourself a lot of wasted energy and effort. 

The second most important lesson I learned from Evelyn is the following:

“Listen to your own heart. In all honesty, there is no question I can answer better than your own heart can. Everything you need to know, you already know. You just need to find that stillness within you to be able to hear it.”

As a seeker on a spiritual path, it’s often too easy to keep searching outside of myself, from other people and in books and movies, for answers to my questions, when in reality, all I need to do is go within and get quiet enough to hear the truth, the answer that lies within me already.

If you have read The Doorway to PAM, what did you take away from it? What part or character stood out the most to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Doorway to PAM

I’m a pantser, and very proud of it too!

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, here is the Urban Dictionary definition:

Pantser : A NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.

The alternative to this is the plotter. The definition:

A person who plots.
A person who plots on a regular basis.
A person who has indeed plotted before.
A person who is currently plotting.

I do not plot. When I write, I do not need to know what’s going to happen next, I do not need to develop characters or arcs or twists. In fact, it is completely detrimental to my writing to know any of these things in advance.

Which is why I am still working on my new book. I started it with a very rigid plot and structure, and it has been a case of just filling in the blanks. I understand that many writers work in this way, but I personally find it irritating, boring and incredibly difficult.

Once this book is finished, I vow to never work with a plot ever again. I will forevermore fly by the seat of my pants.

Rant over.

If you are planning on writing a novel this year, sign up to Nanowrimo.org, and get yourself a copy of the awesome ‘No Plot? No Problem!’. Just don’t read it in public, you will get funny looks.

No plot