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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

Voices in My Head

Updated: Mar 8, 2023


Since my retirement in late 2018, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the magic in writing. Since I don’t understand the complexities of thought that result in creative, spontaneous ideas, the word magic will need to suffice.

Yesterday, I was writing a scene I’d planned for my historical novel. An older doctor in 1906 visits a dear friend, also a doctor, to offer guidance. I had the scene reasonably well planned and only needed to put it to words. But, as I typed, the passage

took an unexpected turn. The characters didn’t behave as I’d intended; they refused, resisting my efforts. Instead, well-worn jokes of my father’s, interactions I’d observed play out in my grandparent’s Brooklyn apartment came to life, pushing my scripted plan out the door. Vivid human colors flashed before my eyes. The scene became real, believable.

I typed away, laughing aloud at the irony, wondering how my brain synapses could sword fight in that way. I let the spontaneity take me along, redrafting my plot, tweaking it to fit the new characters and dialogue, making it feel closer to the heart.

Storytelling and memory are peculiar forces on the battlefield of a story. When faced with a choice, I generally let my sense of reality win. In the end, I believe the characters become more believable, less like the porcelain dolls of my early childhood.

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