03 July 2024

Down Bad

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Have you ever related to a breakup song not because of a past romantic relationship, but because of the relationship that you had with one of your own fictional characters? No? Just me? Well, buckle up! 

Yes, I'm talking about a Taylor Swift song. Again. 

The song is called "Down Bad," and for the first few weeks of listening to it, I didn't think I related to it at all. Other than my husband, I only had one boyfriend for a couple months in high school, so I generally don't relate to breakup songs at all. I just don't have all that much experience. 

This song uses an alien abduction as a metaphor for being swept up in an intense romance that feels other-worldly, and then being left suddenly, stranded like none of it ever happened. 

Funnily enough, the connection hit me while I was at the gym (the first line of the chorus is "Now I'm down bad crying at the gym"). I've been in a writing rut for several years, so I'm not surprised I didn't pick up on it right away. So long, in fact, that if you're new here or just stopping by from the IWSG list, you probably don't even know what I'm talking about. But I realized I felt exactly the same way about my relationship with Jordan, my main character/muse from my novel Uneven Lines (that I've been off and on working on since 2011). 

I remember those first days of writing this particular story. The idea hit me out of nowhere, and the need to work on it was so intense that I would forget to eat or be physically bothered by the fact that I wasn't writing. I was obsessed with this story, and continued to be obsessed with it for years. Life, time, and energy always kept me from finishing it as quickly as that first short story. Turning it into a novel was a daunting task, but it was still an obsession. 

I also truly felt like Jordan was practically a real person who I had this intense relationship with that can really only happen with your own characters. It's some weird combo of best friend, brother, son, and arch enemy. I would talk to him. I felt his presence. I wanted to finish this book so badly and get it out into the world. 

But then one day it all kind of went away. Maybe it wasn't all at once and was more gradual than just being dropped in the middle of a field from an alien ship. But it definitely felt like being stranded. I felt like Jordan had left me. I felt like this story had left me. I loved working on it so much and I still long for the days where everything was intense and the ideas and the words just flowed so easily. 

One of my favorite lines in the song is: "Like I lost my twin." That's what it feels like. 

I feel like this post is getting more depressing than I intended. I just miss that feeling of wanting to work on something every second I could, because it's been so long since I've wanted to really work on anything at all. I don't know how to get that feeling back.

I guess I'll just keep staring at the sky, hoping he'll come back and pick me up. 

**here's the song if you'd like a listen, but just a warning, there are many many many f-bombs**


  1. Sorry the story and character left you. Maybe he'll come back when he's ready.

  2. Sorry you haven't been inspired to write for a while. I know the feeling. Maybe just try to write for 10 minutes at a time and see if you enjoy the feeling when you get into it a bit. Maybe start something new and just write for the enjoyment of writing.

  3. I hate when that feeling goes away. I've been struggling with it myself. The other day I thought, "I really miss writing. I really hope I get to do some again someday." Unfortunately, I've never found a fix for it except waiting (and keeping my mind occupied on something else as best I can). It can take a while, but in my experience, it comes back around eventually. Jordan will find his way back. <3

  4. I've felt like that when finishing a series and knowing I'm just done with the characters.

  5. It happens that I can relate to this. I often have this "vacancy" and it usually comes after I write The End to a story. Sometimes I just don't have something new to say or characters to help me say it. I get a bit panicky, but then something happens and I'm back to getting words down. I hope that keeps happening for me, and I hope you find that story and those characters you need soon. https://cleemckenziebooks.substack.com/p/something-new-this-way-comes

  6. I know what you mean about characters feeling like they're real people you can talk to, like they have a real presence. I also know what you mean about how they sometimes seem to disappear for no apparent reason

    Sometimes, if I haven't heard from one or more of my characters in a while, I'll try to write something deliberately bad. Something full of dumb cliches and bad grammar. If you need an example, there's a video on YouTube called Half Life: Full Life Consequences that's worth checking out. That sort of deliberately bad writing can get my characters so incensed that they come back to tell me what I'm doing wrong and (very helpfully) how to fix it.

    Every writer is different, and what works for one person might not work for somebody else. But writing bad on purpose (Full Life Consequences style) is a writing exercise that's helped me when I lose touch with a character, so I thought I'd share it with you.

  7. I hope that your urge to write returns soon, Sarah. I listen to a lot of music, and I'm in awe of the writing talent that song writers have, the way they capture so much in a few words. Be kind to yourself!

  8. :( I really do hope he returns for you. I commiserate.

  9. I've definitely felt this for a WIP I've been working on forever! We reconnected for a brief moment a few months ago, allowing me to rework the outline, but since then crickets. Here's to hoping our characters will come back so we can finish their stories!

  10. I've had that feeling happen a few times with various stories. It's always a bummer, but I can distract myself with other stories.