Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

When the Shock of Reality Intrudes

When I start the writing process for each book, I know I’ll have to complete what’s called an Art Fact Sheet, where I fill out information on my book and include links for what my characters might look like.

What my characters might look like. For me, this is so important when writing the book. So much so that every time I open the file to start writing, my main characters’ images greet me to inspire and remind me who I’m writing about. I need to be able to picture them as real people. How do I find these images? I normally do a Google search for actors or real-life people who might resemble what’s in my head, and then I save the image to my computer. I love this process. It makes my characters come alive in my mind. It’s no different with my current book. I have these people populating my head, and I’m on a journey with them, hoping to find their Happy Ever After.

But what if it’s not so happy?

This past Wednesday, I started my writing process the way I always do. I opened the file to the story and scrolled past the two images at the top of the screen and went about writing. I didn’t think anything about it as I wrote of conflict and laughter and sexy banter between my characters. About an hour later, I exited to check my email and the browser opened to a news story. And there I see a picture of the man I’d chosen as the inspiration for my hero. The hero I’d just scrolled past an hour earlier. The actor had just died in a skiing accident. I sat there in shock. Then I went back to the file with my story and stared at his image for a long time, an incredible sense of grief and loss going through me. I don’t know this actor in real life. But he lived through the character in my book. And I was so sad for a life cut tragically short.

Now if you’re not a writer, it may be hard to understand why this would have any bearing on writing the story, but it does. At least for me. I closed the file, not sure if I could even continue writing this particular hero. But I have to. The manuscript is due at the end of this month, and I’ve written over half the book.

I wrote my husband a text and his response was: “That must be hard.” Nope, he didn’t understand. I then wrote a close friend who told me to go take a walk and grieve and give it a day. So I did. And here I sit on Friday, getting ready to go look for a new image and to keep writing. Write a hero who is the same, but not quite the same as the person I’d written on Wednesday before seeing the news.

For those of you who are writers (and for those of you who aren’t), what is it that stops your process right in its tracks? And how do you get past it in order to complete what you started?

2 thoughts on “When the Shock of Reality Intrudes”

  1. Oh I understand! When I heard that Gaspard Ulliel had died, I mourned, too. Like you, I’d used him as a hero inspiration for my recent book, Twins For The Neurosurgeon. I looked at him every day that I sat down to write and now that he’s gone? I feel so sorry for those he left behind. My grief will not match that of his family’s, and no, I didn’t know him either, but I was terribly affected by his loss.

    1. Yes, Louisa! It’s this exactly. It’s so horrible, and tragic and the sense of wanting to go back and somehow undo what happened to him is very real. It’s hard to look into someone’s eyes every day–even if it’s just a picture–and not have a sense of knowing that person. It’s just so hard. I feel for all of those who knew and loved him.

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