I Claudia is Done! Kill the Monster!
Finishing anything always involves paradox: That oxymoronic combination of relief and sadness. Okay, maybe, but “kill the monster”?
A strange phrase to use when completing a long project- one that has taken a year to finish…like a book. Or is it?
I’m a writer but the paradox is not limited to writing; instead, it applies to all big, long-term projects. Graduating from college, finishing a dissertation, achieving a long sought after goal, like a promotion, raise, or public recognition of your specific talent… that strange paradox of bittersweet exists- or better lurks- behind each and every achievement of our lives.
I return to Winston Churchill’s words each time one of my books is done.
Especially this latest one: I Claudia. A book I’d not planned to write. Instead, I’d planned to write the 5th in the Lindsey McCall mystery series. I was eager to get started with Lindsey, Rich, Gabe and Zach Cunningham, these last two back from Do You Solemnly Swear? I love these people and am very comfortable with them. Too comfortable it seems because writing a story about Pontius Pilate with a title of I, Claudia appeared in my head early last March. Decidedly uncomfortable.
Churchill’s phrasing, so appropriately and splendidly describes these paradoxical feelings of relief and sadness.
Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
Churchill’s first sentence and last phase, “….an adventure…just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling it to the public,” says it all.
- A new book -or new anything- is an adventure. All that the word entails is contained: Excitement, terror, anticipation, uncertainty, doubt and much more. Speaking the goal out loud alters, ever so slightly, the world around us: Something new is being created.
- Along the journey to completion, unexpected obstacles appear. Sometimes they appear immense. We cannot see over the tops of them. Doubt creeps in…those voices, “Why did I ever start this?” “I should have known I could never get it done!”
- We think it’s our imagination but it has a name. One eloquently named and described in Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art.
- “Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling.. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
What causes it?
In my world, it’s a strange and compelling mix of curiosity and unease…that sometimes morphs into fear. Write a story about the Crucifixion of Christ? Are you insane?
One of the many reasons that I continue writing fiction is to ponder the problem of evil. Last year, it consumed my heart, mind and psyche as I sought to write about a man who wished to annihilate humanity in Malthus Revisited. And this year, it’s been Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, those seventy-one Sanhedrin insisting on freeing a murderer and killing Jesus.`
And then…Suddenly it’s over. I, Claudia is done. You did it…created something brand new.