Things My Characters Taught Me–About Myself by Kristy Woodson Harvey
You can learn more than you ever realized from favorite characters, even if they’re your own!
Many a brilliant writer has said that she doesn’t know how she feels about something until she writes it down. I agree with that completely. I love working out problems through my pages, putting opposing sides on the shoulders of my characters, distilling them down and then ultimately coming out with my own opinion.
The best part is that, in the process of all of that, my characters give me the best advice.
In Lies and Other Acts of Love, in particular, this wasn’t a surprise, really. One of the main characters, Lovey, is the other main character, Annabelle’s, grandmother. Much of the advice that is passed down from generation to generation in this book is something that I learned from my own grandmother. And she gives the best advice ever. When I need to know anything from what to wear to an event to how to respond to a slight to the perfect gift for someone, she is the one I call. And she always, always has the perfect answer.
One of the things this book explores is being in control of your own life and whether we are or we aren’t.
If you ask me, I’d say that I firmly believe we aren’t in control. We may think we are, but I believe there are forces much greater than us at work creating our destiny.
That’s what I would say. In reality, I’m a giant control freak. Huge. This makes no sense, I know. How can you believe that you’re not in control but still try to control everything? I have no idea. I just know that I live it most days. And I’m trying to be better! (I should
probably watch Frozen again… That seems to help.)
One of my favorite pieces of advice in Lies and Other Acts of Love is one that I now have hanging on my wall. (You can too! I’m giving away gorgeous printables to anyone who purchases my new book before April 10!) Lovey says, “Some things are out of our hands and, if we’re going to make it through this life, we’d do well to figure out what those things are.”
I look at this every day now as I try to lump the things I’m thinking about into the category of “I can control this” and the category of “completely not worth worrying about.”
The publishing industry might be one of the worst businesses to be in for someone who really likes to be in charge. Because, in a big publishing house, at least, you’re not in charge. You get to write the best book you possibly can and then, when you send it away, someone else is entirely in charge of deciding whether your work gets out into the world. There’s a lot of waiting involved in this game. And there’s a lot of trust and a lot of handing over the reins to someone else. But, on the flip side, when you’ve been waiting, and you’ve been trusting, and you’ve been worrying, and you finally get that “yes” that you’ve been dreaming of all along, it’s the best feeling in the entire world.
I’m in the midst of that right now, the waiting to hear about my next book. This is solidly in the “completely not worth worrying about” category because, at this point, my job is done. This decision is totally out of my hands.
And so, I can’t help but think that the character of Lovey had something to teach me here, that she came out of my imagination to remind me of the thing that, right now, I need to hear the very most.
Some things really are out of our hands. And so we simply can’t worry. I have a feeling that my own beloved grandmother would tell me the very same thing.
Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of Dear Carolina. She holds a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Learn more and order your copy of Lies and Other Acts of Love here.
Even if you’re not on spring break, you’ll want to ..
A long-awaited memoir, a YA favorite and a new writer ..
A room of one’s own. That’s what every writer needs, ..
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..