Since I’ve had Netflix this past year, I’ve learned that I love to binge-watch shows. I’ve enjoyed old favorites, like watching every episode of MASH or Gilmore Girls in order and back-to-back. It makes a huge difference. For instance, I don’t think people realized how inconsistent MASH was. One day it’s freezing and the middle of winter. The next it’s boiling and the height of summer. Of course, the setting was exactly the same. Or you see that Gilmore Girls wasn’t just fun and filled with rapid fire repartee. When consumed en masse, the brilliance of the writing and plotting shows up. Okay, it’s a soap opera and very over dramatic, but I like TV-lite because it helps me not think about all the heavy responsibilities of my life.
I’ve discovered new shows, like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which was obviously written to be consumed in a binge style, and I’ve had a chance to watch shows that I didn’t catch the first time around, like White Collar (which I LOVED–consuming 6 short seasons in a week–don’t judge.)
But this phenomenon, while probably unhealthy, I have realized, typifies creative behavior. When I write, it’s not often in small spurts. Because it takes time to get my head into the story, I resist leaving that world. During the school year, I’m limited to writing for 2-3 hours at a time, but during the summer, I’ll go at it for 10-12 hours a day for a couple of weeks. I’ve learned that when I put down my work, I put it down for several days (or a week, as when I consumed White Collar.) When I return to my work, I’m fresh and committed. Or I put it down and do something else.
Is this behavior healthy? Probably not, but it’s cathartic, and who doesn’t love a good catharsis?
In a romance novel, the characters are the plot. Their foibles and flaws, wants and needs, drive the action and the way the plot unfolds. For Surreal Neal, I had to come up with a man who was handsome enough to catch Drew and Sophia’s eyes, intriguing enough to keep their interest, and kinky enough to bring something to the table that had been missing.
The other challenge I faced was in making sure neither Drew nor Sophia felt like their relationship was deficient. I wanted the addition of Neal to improve upon what they already had. This is part of the journey Sophia and Drew take as they fall for this imperfect hero.
Neal had to be submissive and a bit of a masochist because Sophia is a Domme and a bit of a sadist. He also needed to be strong because Drew is attracted to strong personalities. He makes the pair work to earn his trust, his submission, and ultimately his heart. He is the first man with whom Sophia voluntarily shares the details of her violent past. He’s a mirror, someone who can help her view her own life through a new viewpoint. Ultimately, he takes her further in the healing process.
Neal is the also first man who awakens Drew’s inner Dom. Until now, Drew had been content to sit back and let Sophia handle the role of Dominant. As he explores this new part of himself, he also gets a chance to see his life and his actions through an alternate lens.
In bringing perspective to both Sophia and Drew, Neal helps them become better people. In turn, they show him that he can learn to trust and love again. That part of his life isn’t over. It’s just beginning.
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