Monday, September 15, 2008

When art mirrors real life

I just discovered that a major theme of my book centers on unconditional love. Odd that I would have “discovered” this. After all, who’s in charge of this insane asylum anyway? That’s the funny thing about writing fiction, oftentimes it rules our quill and moves us in different directions than we’d anticipated. How many times have I laid out the framework of a chapter only to get into the meat of writing and have my characters push me elsewhere? Sometimes I wonder if I’m channeling something going on in my life that is applicable to my characters, Kim and Erik. While they’re great surgeons, they are fatally human and make some dumbass decisions based on their, well, humanness.

I kept wondering exactly what Erik’s problem was with Kim since they were so perfect together before he went and screwed everything up. I realize how all schizoid this sounds since he is a figment of my imagination, but the sociology major in me likes to delve deeper into a character’s psyche and think about the why’s behind their actions. And that’s when the idea unconditional love came to me. What a revelation. It’s a hefty notion to love someone, warts and all. Especially in this day and age of disposable relationships. I’m not talking about hogging all the covers at night and not putting the cap on the toothpaste. Those are murderous offenses in my book.

I’m talking about the ability to overcome very big issues because the love we have for that special someone is far bigger than preconceived notions. It’s people of differing political parties, religions, or skin color to not be the Bickersons where food fights and flying dishes rule the household because they found a way to make it work. And this is what my characters knock up against in a big way with this second novel. The trick for me is to write about it convincingly.

Experiential writing is strong medicine because I’m forced to dig into my private reserve that sometimes has a “Do Not Touch” sign on it. This is the stuff that says, don’t go there, gurlfren’. It’s reeealy private and reeealy painful. But I need to tap into that in order to make my characters real. I discovered I knew about unconditional love. And boy, did it open my eyes in a most therapeutic way. So didn’t see that coming.

I learned that it’s ok to be pissed and hurt over my son’s actions or decisions and still love him anyway. I learned to give in to the fact that he beats his own drum, even if it is in dire need of a tuning. I learned to come to terms with his avoidance of our family as if we’re contagious. I learned to accept the dichotomy that, while there seems to exist this family disconnect, he’s never spoken harshly. He just floated away from us. I’ve learned to appreciate that my heart will ache and my brain will be angry. I learned that should he call me in the middle of the night in a still, small voice, asking if I still love him, that my answer will be an unhesitating, sobby “yes, of course. With all my heart and soul.”

How odd that my writing would force me to confront my private reserve and, ultimately help me understand more about me, my son, and my character. Should be one hell of a chapter.

No comments: