Over the last few days I’ve been writing about a burgeoning teenage relationship. The first, for my protagonist. I’d been wondering why there was so much to-ing and fro-ing on my keyboard, so much doubt about the right way to express things, so much angst as I painfully tapped out the scenes word by awkward word.
And then I realised this morning, just as I was about to give up, that maybe, actually my writing was just mirroring what was going on with my characters. That my inability to find the right thing to say, the painstaking cautiousness with which I was placing the words on the page, was just a living metaphor for the relationship that was unfolding.
It made a lot of sense. Because when I stopped to think about it, it wasn’t all awkward. Those excruciating moments where I just wanted to hide under a rock were sandwiched more often than not by others where the words flowed freely, where I just let myself be carried along by the excitement of it all.
It’s been surprisingly tricky transporting myself back to the mind of a teenager. I say surprising, because if I’m honest with myself I was stuck in the realms of teenage angst for way longer than I should have been. But it has been the innocence that has been hard to capture: an internal monologue unsullied by experience. In the scenes I’ve been writing this week, my protagonist has been twelve and thirteen. She’s clever, and she knows things, but she hasn’t lived them yet.
I’ve had to really hold onto that, because my main conceptualisation of this character has been as an older girl and woman. Thoughts and phrases have come into my head that seem to fit the situation she’s in, but actually she’s not quite there yet: I’ve stored them away for the scenes yet to come where they will be far more relevant.
And it’s in these coming scenes that my tolerance for awkwardness will really be tested. This first relationship, over before it had really begun, was just the warm-up to the main event, where adolescent awkwardness is just a sideline to the many layers of crazy we are about to find ourselves embroiled in.
I think it’s going to be rather fun.