I know that many writers say that their characters came alive in the course of writing them, that the characters even directed the story, took the plot or theme in a new direction.
But how many of you - writers and readers - feel that the story itself can become a living being - the plot of course is the spine of the work, the characters are the mind and heart, the theme its soul. And once the body of your work starts living and breathing on its own, it's important to feed and clothe it - with your best possible prose. It's important to introduce this new creature to the world - readers other than yourself.
Sometimes when we're stuck on a scene, or an entire book, it helps to let this creature breathe on its own. The old saw of stepping away from your work, taking a walk, doing something physical, often does work to renew your ability to write. I like to think of it as pumping some air into the lungs of this book/being - until it's ready to just take off running on its own. Or as is certainly sometimes the case with me, to take off crawling slowly in circles around kitchen floor and knocking into the cat bowls.
At any rate, I think books do come alive for readers, and that it's not too far a stretch to say the stories are living, constantly mutating, growing "bodies of work" as writers shape them, too.
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