Kill your darlings

I'm only posting this after I finish the short story 'TGWGC' where, I think, there was a breakthrough. I imagine this is what therapists talk about when their patients finally understand something that was staring them in the face their entire lives. For the first time, maybe ever, I feel something other than relief at completing it just so I can forget it and get to the next story.

This one turned out a bit different. It started off in a flippant tone -most of which I'm going to edit out given its eventual outcome- and I just thought I'd fit into the PC-Baiting Samizdat collection. But those are stories that I find easy to write and don't make me feel much except a certain amount of glee at playing the troll and getting clever with language.

But here, now, I'm stuck. Not because I don't know where to go but because I know too well, and because I just don't have the heart for it. I'm dreading it almost. I approached Steve as I do all characters; a figment of my imagination whose fate is in my hands and who's got no say in either his salvation nor in his downfall. But as I wrote about his day, he began to have a presence -one I'd soon erase. There's something about this I don't like. But it's also, I think, what validates that it's what I need to do. There is no question of the outcome, but as that presence grew in my mind, I realized that what happens to could easily happen to somebody in modern day America.

A couple days ago I was in the shower when I was imagining the progression of events, from the theft of his phone, the mob at the gas station, his interaction and eventual death at the hands of the police, and I said aloud, "what a fuckin tragedy". My girlfriend who was in the bathroom to get something asked, "What is?"
"It's that story I told you about, with Steve and how it all ends."
"Oh, yeah, it is."
I had given her the outline earlier at dinner, while we waited for our mains, and she thought it was a 'good story'. She doesn't usually say that. 

So now I'm here writing this instead of assassinating my character, and I'm reminded of Laurent Binet's novel (HHhH) about the assassination of Heydrich in Prague during the Nazi occupation during the war. He peppers the history with his own commentary, making for an interesting historical fiction novel with the benefit of time and hindsight as part of the narrative, very original. He goes on to describes the eventual siege and the deaths of the Czech assassins-slash-freedom fighters, spread out over several pages, diary style. He writes something like:

July 22nd

"The German soldiers bring in hoses and start pumping water into the crypt..."

It's all I can write today.

July 23

another few lines and some commentary on the way he can't help but procrastinate writing out the final few pages.)"

This is the breakthrough I was talking about: I've spent enough time on a character to care about his fate. I've been plagued by this scene all day. I don't want to write it. I almost want to drop the whole thing just to avoid it. Nobody would know, nobody would care. But I think it means something that I feel like this, so I'm going to finish it. But I'm going to hate it.
For the first time, maybe ever, I feel something other than relief at completing it just so I can forget it and get to the next story.

really thrilled and can't stop smiling that this took place here. Somedays i think you and i will never write together and then other days I think otherwise. 

and wait a minute. i thought that caring too much about our characters is what makes us bad writers? because it makes us wantto shove them inside permanent ennui's or pastorals?
2021-08-11 20:07:58
I'm sure we'll always be writing together in some way or another. You'll be the first to know if it doesn't happen :D

As for characters and caring...all I know is you have to feel like they're human. I'm over the whole death scene thing, whatever, but it's good to write and get to a point where you think, "I'll miss you buddy." I think it means you cared enough to make him/her a well fleshed out character.
2021-08-12 18:32:05