Formal Apology to My Characters

I just spent three incredible days hiking over 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail with some of my best friends.  I carried all my supplies with me, I slept in a hammock, I drank water from a stream, I cooked over a fire (well, s’mores), I forewent basic hygiene.  And I walked.  A lot.  It was invigorating, it was amazing, it was satisfying.  It was painful.  It was exhausting.  Somewhere during the second day when I was in between being grateful for the good weather and current flat trails (lots of it was downhill, and even more was uphill) and hoping my feet weren’t going to break, I realized I owe an apology to some of my characters.

In my current novel (whose title is under possible revision) I make my characters do a LOT of walking. And running.  Within the first chapter, Keely is running.  Later she and Shanahan flee and wind up walking through the very large forest.  There they meet Kayyat.  The three of them then spend a great deal of the book in the forest, walking from one civilization to the next, often running to escape those after them.  Finally out of the forest, they come across a desert they have to cross.  Here they have to carry food and water with them.  Until my time on the AT, I didn’t think about just how physically draining this must be for them: days of trudging along, poor sleeping (and they don’t even get hammocks!) and abnormal eating/drinking patterns.  It three days, my body felt worn; I’m still recovering.  I sentence them to months of the activity!

As I sit on my comfortable couch and prepare to go and sleep in my comfortable bed, still feeling my legs, knees and feet mildly aching, I regret I ask so much of Keely, Kayyat and Shanahan.  I won’t change my demands on them, obviously; the story requires it.  But I do wish to offer them my formal apology.

 

~ S.D. Bullard

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~ by sdbullard on July 9, 2013.

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