Holy Moses! My youngest kid has started using what has quickly become my new favorite word.
As in “Let’s betend we’re kittens.”
I am totally in love with this word, and not just because I totally love my kid. I love this word because it says everything about what I love and fear about writing.
Here’s what it means to me.
To betend is to let go of yourself and free fall into a story and not know when you will feel the ground beneath your feet or what it will feel like when you get there. To betend is to let your characters tell their story even if that story includes them telling truths you don’t agree with. Betending is letting yourself have faith that this story came to you for a reason, and that you are the one to tell it, and that it’s okay when you find bits of yourself inside of it. Your characters will protect your secrets. And they will speak them for you. Betending is feeling your characters’ joy and fear and shame and love. You feel it together and then it’s not so much to bear.
Betending is magic, I’m sure of it.