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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

And I Thought it was Only Me

I haven’t written a great deal about the book I’m working on, Tillie’s Story (temporary title). Typically, writing my blog has been a detour to get me out of a writing rut - an escape from my immersion in the late 1800’s - or when I need to come up for air.

I follow a few writers' Facebook sites. Often contributors bring up thoughts that resonate with me. This morning a women wrote about the emotional energy needed to write a sad scene and how she procrastinated endlessly before finally writing it. She found it totally exhausting.

I thought I was the only one who put off those scenes. Hearing someone else express the same difficulty surprised me. Not sure why, except I'm a late in life writer - and many obvious things are still aha moments for me. But, sad and sex scenes, especially this year, require a certain state-of-mind.

Tillie, based on my great-grandmother - who carried my cancer mutation - and the fictional protagonist in the book, had an up and down life. Many of her challenges came from the time she lived in - rampant disease (making our Corona virus seem like a common event), deplorable health and housing conditions that lead to an average life span closer to 50 than 80 years, and a 20%+ infant mortality rate. Can you imagine that? And in that “Guilded Age” of amazing inventions, like electricity, they thought they lived in an exciting, modern time. Perhaps in 150 years, when cancer is cured, scientists fix heart disease and figure out how to balance development with saving our planet, we’ll be viewed by our ancestors in the same regard.

Those conditions were the baseline of life back then and people obsessed, feared, coped and became superstitious about much of it - after all, it was only a few years earlier that scientific geniuses discovered these microscopic organisms we know as germs! They even had a theory named after it.

So, I find conjuring the emotions needed to write the hard stuff exhausting and quite parallel to the experience actors must have digging deeply into their emotional reservoir to convince their audience. It’s not unusual to finish a scene and feel the tears dripping down my cheeks.

But, to leave things on a happier note, the scenes of joy also feel extraordinary and evoke many happy memories for me. Most of all, the sex scenes do quite a number on my libido. I generally give ample notice to my husband - so he can run for the hills! Can’t wait to work on those revisions!

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