Have you ever entered your personal demons into your fictional character's world?
I have and the outcome in the real world wasn't pretty. I spiraled as I had never spiraled before in my life. I was sad, depressed, and empty. I didn't understand why my ex-lover had such a hold on my heart and why I couldn't escape his grasp. I was stuck in my own personal prison - my past. I didn't know how to escape the endless torture his memory put me through day in and day out. Interrupting my joyous events such as my sister's Bridal Shower and Bachelorette, interrupting my worship time, and taking away my very peace. I was useless and weak.
Until I knew what I had to do. I knew how to put those demons to rest - walk my main character through the same demons, but this time she would fight them better than I had before her. That is how Chapter 11 of Where Will We Go? was born.
It's true that authors throw every ounce of themselves into the writing cauldrons. We sprinkle in happiness, heartbreak, trauma, and hope into the batch to create stories that jump off the page and into our readers' hearts. Our craft comes from within us because there is a voice deep inside us that is begging us to be heard.
In writing both my debut and second books, I listened to my inner voice more times than I can count. I leaned into the pain of my past and dove in headfirst. No matter how much it hurt, I fought so that Lucy could be a voice for women and men around the world. In hopes that she can be a vessel for them or a glimmer of hope in their lives like she has been for me all these years and continues to be. Even your heartbreak chapter is important, your recovery is what comes next and it is going to be beautiful.
My face lights up at the familiar yellow sign as we walk up to the LEGO Store. My feet halt in front of the wide display windows that hold colorful LEGO bricks in various shapes and sizes. The memory smacks me in between the eyes.
Jenny says, “What’s that look for?”
“You are going to hate it.”
She raises her eyebrows; one is twitching. “Oh, I see. Is it a David memory?”
“An old one from a weekend trip to Nashville.” I give a melancholy smile. “Yes,
it’s a good one. Maybe even funny and memorable.”
David moved from Nashville to Athens, Alabama, when we were high school freshmen. His dad had been promoted to manager of an ever-growing window company, and he was reassigned to run the Alabama store. David loved being my tour guide when we came to see his aunt and uncle sometimes.
“The memory includes the LEGO Store?”
Michael says, “Yeah, that’s a little strange, even for me.”
“Strange but still funny.” I shrug.
Jenny waves her hand. “So, what’s the funny memory?”
“Right. Right after David and I graduated from college, we went on a weekend trip. We went to the mall on our first day. You know, Opry Mills?”
“I love that mall. Everyone raves about it.”
I remember that day like it was yesterday. We were young and madly in love. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other. My arm looped through his as we walked around the mall. We did more window shopping than purchasing that day.
“It’s because they have everything.” I nudge them. “I bet this place does, too.”
Michael says, “Lucy, you’re getting sidetracked.”
“Oh, right, sorry.” I blush. “Where was I?”
“Y’all came to Opry Mills on your first day.”
“We were window shopping and making tons of loops around the mall. We were cracking jokes and laughing. Having fun together. On one of our final loops, we stopped in front of the LEGO Store. Much like we are right now. He leaned into me and whispered, ‘If you let me go in there, you’ll never get me out.’ Apparently, LEGO bricks were his weakness.”
The twinkle in his eyes, jokester grin, and charm that could swoon me for days plays in my mind. We’re laughing about his secret obsession with building LEGO bricks. Him pulling me toward the store’s door and me pulling him back into the crowd. We can’t go in or we’ll never make it to lunch. Jenny’s voice pulls me back to the here and now. I shrug off the need to enter the store, instead I look at the display window just like David and I did in Nashville all those years ago.
“Apparently, LEGO bricks were his weakness,” Jenny shrugs, “but I never heard
him mention it.”
“Maybe it was his hidden identity.” Michael coughs. “He did turn out to be a
villain. Man, his story actually started out good.” David was this wholesome Southern boy from Nashville, who loved me so much. Looking back, I would have never guessed he would cheat on me. To this day, he was a good guy turned evil.
“He probably did have a secret identity.” Jenny sees my face fall and adds, “Hey
it isn’t your fault, Lucy Lu. Plus, you seem happy, no tears?”
“He isn’t worth my tears.” I cross my arms. “Sometimes the best of people turn
It is okay to be happy about a memory because it’s only a moment in time. I push forward toward the staircase, bypassing the LEGO Store and heading toward the future. I am slowly learning to grow through the memories that randomly pop up. Without those situations, I wouldn’t be who I am now. His presence in my life wasn’t by mistake. He existed to make me better, and I left to meet myself again. He was only a chapter in my life, not my whole story. I am done hating myself for remembering my past; instead, I choose to be thankful.
- Chapter 11, Where Will We Go?
This was the heartbreak that created the realness in Will You Love Me Again? and continues to pierce my heart in Where Will We Go? which is how David Lee came to life so many years ago.
Before this guy came into my life, I was creating characters and stories based on other peoples' relationships because I had never really had any of my own. Unless you count those two short-lived boyfriends in high school, but no one except me seems to count those guys. They impacted my life, yes. But college is where heartbreak was shown in a new light to me. One that damaged me to my core. This cut was so deep that it took years for me to recover who I was before that time in my life. I didn't recognize the girl in the mirror for a long time even though she was there waiting for me to get better. My heart was in a million pieces and my view of myself was in a trillion. He broke everything in me and then threw me away like last night's whiskey. I was just another girl who clinged too hard to the idea of loving him, the hope of being his everything one day. Just another face in the crowd of a million to him.
I let that brokenness consume me from 22 - 24 years old. Two whole years of personal torment. Instead of letting him continue winning, I threw every characteristic and hurt from our brief relationship into David Lee's character in Will You Love Me Again? and when I needed a little more for Where Will We Go? I dug into my memories yet again. I forced myself to shine a light on my past and move past it. That's why this partial memory made it into my book; I didn't hold back either. I dove headfirst into my heartbreak and I haven't looked back since.
In this article series, I share excerpts and stories from my book, Where Will We Go? I hope you enjoyed this post — if you enjoyed it and want to connect you can reach me here via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Also, you can also find my book on Amazon.