Last week my husband took it upon himself to point out (as many spouses are wont to do) that I was wrong when I said in an earlier post that I didn’t think there was any symbolism in my book. There are several passages in which Milena and Damien discuss the character Julia from 1984, and isn’t Julia’s betrayal of Winston symbolic of what Milena is facing as she decides whether to betray Damien?
Well, ok… yeah.
And this is what I’ve learned about writing (and what I’m rediscovering over and over again): Sometimes things just happen. You don’t plan or expect them; they just present themselves, and they veer your course either a little or a lot. Then it’s up to you if you want to just ride it out and see where it takes you, or claw your way back to the course you were determined to be on. I can’t explain why or how this happens (I guess one possible answer is that our imaginations are constantly straining against their leashes), but I do know that this is why I write linearly. I may have imagined a scene I want to write 200 pages from now, but I can’t write that scene yet because I don’t know what’s going to have happened in every moment leading up to that scene, and I fully expect I’m going to be driven off course and discover something new about a character or place that I didn’t know before.
And Julia is one of those unexpected things that happened. She showed up when I started writing the English class scenes, and she just worked. So I kept her. And when I think again about whether I planned any symbolism, I still believe I didn’t. But a symbol presented itself, and though I didn’t stop to view her that way, she certainly does represent a lot of the struggles Milena is facing throughout the book.
So yeah, I was wrong. And it’s in writing. Double win for the husband 🙂