Have you ever been in love? Not with a person, per se, but a character? Or the idea of a character? In the realm of characters, I have loved deeply and often. But there is one about which I have become obsessed. This obsession has lasted a long time, since high school. We're talking Restraining Order obsessed, sitting in front of the house at 3 am playing "our song" over and over on my Walkman (pre-iPod, kids) and sobbing into the steering wheel.
OK, so this particular character doesn't have a house, nor do we have a song, but you get the gist. Who is it?
Roland, of Charlemagne and the Battle of Roncevaux fame.
I'm not sure exactly what sparked my obsession. I think it was Stephen King's Dark Tower books that first nudged me towards the real dude. King's Roland is based on Charlemagne's nephew and there is a mention of him as well in King Lear. This led me to The Song of Roland, an epic poem about him and that ill-fated battle.
History left a big hole where Roland is concerned. A hole filled by Literature, medieval and even modern. His story has fascinated wordslingers for centuries.
What is it about him that tugs at my writerly heartstrings? Perhaps it is his untimely death. Betrayal. Humble beginnings and eventual success. Though I have found none of these things historically. It is through the myths and stories told about him that one gleans his character, or the hint of the man he might have been.
I have wanted to write Roland's story for years. It is a daunting task, to fill so large a hole. But I finally decided now was the time, and NaNo, the perfect vehicle. This is the ultimate test of my chops as a writer and this cannot be undertaken with a faint heart. My inner critic needs to be tossed in a dungeon and locked away for me to even think of writing this book.
It scares the ever-loving hell out of me. Like finally getting to go on a date with the guy I've been stalking for decades. I don't imagine by the end of November I will have a perfect book, nor even a finished one. But like Roland and his famous uncle, I am determined to win the prize of 50,000 words of usable novel though I be bloodied and broken by the end of it.