A full circle

I’ve been re-writing, re-plotting, and re-drafting, the majority of a novel I wrote eight years ago. Shocking when I think it was that long ago that this project came into my thoughts and I began to write it. It took me one year to write that first draft. It was the first idea that spurred me into being a writer.

My grandmother’s death at the time was the inspiration for the premise. While that hasn’t changed at all, the story line has a lot. As have some characters. And motivations. And arcs. When I returned to this particular work last October, I thought it was an easy fix, and I thought it was basically done. Silly me. But once I’d ripped it apart, I realized I’d gone to far in to turn back or give up on it.

But, that didn’t mean I didn’t want to. Especially as I have another novel I put on hold to whip this one into perfection (ya right! lol), and as I have ideas aplenty, I often wondered why I’m trying to fix something so broken when I can just start fresh. Well, the thing is, I think I just want to prove to myself that I can do my very best with it rather than dump it, and another part of me thinks it’s a great novel, one that many people can relate to. It’s a novel about death, or rather about how the living cope with death. And it’s a novel about stories, and how we each have one, and the choices we make as we travel down the road of that story.

I’m never steady in my belief in my own work. Sometimes I think it’s terrific, other moment I think it really sucks. The last few weeks I’d been thinking, okay, I’d better give up on this novel, the premise stinks, there’s too many characters, and it’s not plausible. Normally, I push through these moments, but this time I came very close to throwing in the towel.

And then three weeks ago my family and I buried my paternal grandmother. I was very close with her, all of my childhood, and even much of my adult life was in a shared residence with her. We even shared the same house during the pregnancy and birth of my first two children. The topic of my novel became too close, not something I was able to revisit during her illness and death.

About two weeks ago I sat down to work, and still, I questioned the story. This was a first–normally distance gave perspective, it allowed me to see flaws and solutions, not just garbage as I was seeing this time.

Yesterday, we buried my maternal grandfather. It was a swift death for him, a quick service. In three weeks, my two last living grandparents died, and I saw vast reactions to death. I saw my own different reactions to their deaths. Those around me responded differently. My parents come from different backgrounds, and I witnessed traditions that were quite different in each of the services and funerals. And it made me reflect on my grandmother’s death all those years ago, and how I felt at the time, and the story my mind created to cope with it. And I thought, “here I am again.”

I’ve come full circle, and yet, I’m a different person I was then. A lot has happened in these eight years, a heck of a lot, some wonderful, some terrible, and I’ve been thinking about this novel on and off during these last forty-eight hours since my grandfather’s death. Maybe this too is a coping mechanism, an avoidance technique. But it doesn’t feel like it. Because in thinking about these deaths, I’m thinking about my emotions, and I’m thinking that I really want to finish this novel after all. Right now there’s a sureness in me I haven’t felt since its creation. A sureness that I know the story I have to tell, and that I’ll be able to do it just right. Maybe I just had to live a little more before I was able to figure it.

As a side, this blog has been a little quieter than usual, a little more down than usual. Here’s hoping for a steady gait over the next while. And I hope all is well with all of you.

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10 thoughts on “A full circle

  1. I love your voice. I would read the book. I see death as a thread running throughout life and its many faces. It is a good subject as everyone has that event in common. And more so, there are other deaths, like death of a marriage. The child grows up to become and adult and childhood has a sort of death. And coming full circle, like you said, and being a little different, means something is lost and something is gained. That’s death for me. Something is lost; something is gained.

    great post

    • Hi Marvin, ‘something lost, something gained’, that’s the whole evolution of life, change, growth. It’s what one particular character in my novel refuses to accept.
      I appreciate your words, your support. Again, thank you.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother and grandfather. In addition to the sadness of their passing, there is something particularly poignant when the the last living grandparent dies.

    Writing about your feelings is certainly a way to cope, but it doesn’t sound like you are avoiding anything at all. It sounds like you’re book will be powerful because you are harnessing your real emotions…and will be a wonderful way to pay tribute to your grandparents.

    Good luck with your manuscript.

    • Thanks, Cam, I really appreciate this sentiment. It is sad that a whole generation is gone…and writing really helps ease strees, takes away from daily challenges. It’s a great release. Sometimes I think that’s what writing is all about, dealing with these emotions we face. Well, it certainly is part of it!

  3. I think sometimes we need to experience certain events in order understand them. As writers we know that much of what we experience will end up on the page one day—good, bad, wonderful, awful. We have no choice but to write about it in some form or other. It’s how our mind’s work. Maybe writing about these things, outting them down on paper, makes them more meaningful for us. The written word lives on.

    I’m sorry about the two losses you’ve experienced in such a short time.

  4. Oh no, I know I’m a bit late Jenn, but I’m so sorry to hear about your Grandfather. Two precious losses in such a short space of time. Life can be so cruel. I’m sending you my love, sweety, please stay strong… xoxox

    • Never too late, Nisha! I appreciate the thoughts. It’s been a hard month, that’s for sure. Beginning to get back on track, to function normally. I’m turning all the sadness to gratitude. Thanks so much. xxx

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