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There is no music in death

September 29, 2008

There is no music in death.

That was my opening line. It came to me out of the blue, when I was thinking about how to start my 3rd novel. My first two were haphazardly combined into one which is currently sitting on my hard drive as a 122,000 word beast of a novel. (Overriding Mistake: Combining two novels into one to make it bigger. Bigger is not better in writing, especially when you’re an unpublished writer trying to sell a first novel. Nobody wants to even look at something that big, that expensive to publish. Plus, in combining two separate stories written years apart, the process becomes akin to forcing a square through a circle. It doesn’t work, but something will eventually give and then you’re stuck with it.) Anyway, I plan to go back and either edit down the novel within the format it is currently in, or I will cut them back apart and re-write the 2nd one (better anyway) and focus on it. But like I said, I plan to do that. Maybe when the snow is up to the windows again this winter.

There is no music in death.

The story I wanted to come after that line was about a kid who was abused. I was never abused, I have no actual experience with it, but kids are so trusting and kind that it breaks my heart the most when I hear about children put into a situation where they are scared and alone and hurt and made to feel bad. For me, the father of two kids under 5 and a third on the way, there is no greater fear I have than to imagine my own kids in such a situation of terror. So I wanted to write this story about an abused kid and how he/she heals over time. Or doesn’t heal over time.

There is no music in death.

Then I realized I have no business writing something so serious, so treacherous, so real without any knowledge. I could not be a poseur for this story. It wouldn’t be true, it wouldn’t be real, and it wouldn’t be me. I dropped the idea and started a new, lighter, easier story.

But this is eating at me. This line, this idea, this trove of potential and emotions. For while I was not abused, I do have a friend who was and I remember some heavy conversations we had, and I am so touched and heartbroken when I hear about a kid going missing or who was killed by an abductor. It tears me up inside like nothing else. So…what if I could pull it off? What if there was a way I could write a meaningful story about an abused kid even though I might have no business taking it on? This is what fiction is all about, right? And this is also an example, I am realizing just now after writing the above, of the self-imposed roadblocks writers can end up face down against only to nod yes to the doubt and turn around to go down an easier road.

There is no music in death.

I was at a meeting last night and heard a story about what the Dutch call the typical American style of parenting – the curling style of parenting, referencing the sport of curling. The gist of it is someone pushes this thing down the ice toward it’s goal, but in front of it are two people sweeping away the obstacles in front of it and generally making the path as clear and as easy as possible to get through. It’s all about the overall success. So The Dutch apparently don’t do this, in their culture, learning to deal with obstacles and be accountable even at a young age is paramount. But yes we Americans sure do. And maybe I’ve been looking for the curling style of writing, too. The easy path. The clear way. Maybe I should sit up, take a breath and write head-on into the obstacles and fears of writing something tough and potentially upsetting. But maybe it would have some heart to it.

I know the answer. And there is no music in death.

One Comment leave one →
  1. japhy99 permalink
    October 8, 2008 1:11 am

    Do it man. Fucking do it.

    You have to.

    We were raised to be too polite. To let the best writer in you out, let him be a goddamn bastard.

    Something I struggle with all the time…

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