What are my characters doing?

It is 5.30am on a cool spring morning. The sky is still huddling under a blanket of cloud but it is light outside. I am still not used to waking to anything but a cloak of darkness and spring light surprises me every day.

I woke at 4.20am worrying and wondering about a myriad of things. Like: what am I doing today? And: remember to check the canteen of cutlery (my daughter had a group of friends over on Saturday and I have visions of them throwing forks and teaspoons away with the scraps from their plates.) Also: did I pay that bill? And: should I study next year?  But what keeps me awake mostly is: what are my characters doing?

I am immersed in my writing at the moment, trying to bring all the elements together, not letting a stitch drop and, of course doing so in every chapter. I know that when I eventually hold up this next draft it will be full of holes. And: what are my characters doing? I keep on going over who is where and doing what and does it feel real? I am writing about something that I have not experienced so it is hard for me to reality check it. I have spoken to friends who have been through it, and will speak to a whole lot more. I worry that I am expecting too much of my characters, that I am not giving them enough time to perform their duties. To live their experiences without me pushing them for an outcome.

I am desperate to get the story told so that I can go back and hone and craft and build and bring in and take out. I used to think I would hate that part but now it is the part I love the most. And I am eagerly anticipating getting there. But I have another 20 to 30 thousand words still to get through, about another month of work or more. I am impatient but there is only so much I can do in any one day. I am tempered by life right now.

I think that I need to step back a bit, like one would do to a painting, to get perspective, to get a bird's eye view of the scene. I wonder if I will, or if I will dive back in and get embroiled in one person's life to the exclusion of others and wake up one morning and hold up that draft and think: Oops I've not left an opening for the head!

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