Kill the monster: The paradox of completion
Finishing anything always involves paradox.
Okay, but kill the monster?
A strange phrase to use when completing a long project- one that has taken years to finish…like a book. Especially this 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, achieving a long sought after goal, like a promotion, raise, or public recognition of your specific talent; that strange paradox exists in each and every one.
There’s a curious sense of …”it’s done-what now?”
I return to Winston Churchhill’s words each time one of the books is done. His phrasing, so appropriately and splendidly describes these paradoxical feelings:
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.
We forget. At least I do, that the joy is in the adventure. Always. Never in the finish. Always the paradox. One which I need to revisit each time, one would think we’d remember but we don’t. Which, of course begs the question, why is that exactly?
The answer lies in 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.” The process of writing is jam packed with “Yes!!”
The ups and downs of anything requiring persistence, patience and for me, waiting for the words.
Kill the monster: the paradox of completion.
Returning to Kate and Lindsey along with
the cast of characters in the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series felt like returning to family members I’d not seen for a very long time. And of course, picturing their red Dobie boy Max and his pal Gus, who looks just like Seymour, running in the woods, made my heart soar. Returning to Morgan Gardner, the autistic savant?
But this crisis facing investigative reporter Kate Townsend and Lindsey took a sizeable bite out of my gut.
In the Forward of Plausible, I wrote this:
Nothing I’ve ever written has been as brutally taxing as this story. There are hundreds of reasons for that fact, but I’ve come to understand the primary one is fear.
I didn’t come to fiction until I’d had decades of experience with writing and publishing non-fiction.
The two are worlds apart. While writing is always taxing work—the never ending search for clarity and coherence, nonfiction requires far less from the author than fiction. Because we writers of fiction have a responsibility when creating a character: he or she must be sitting beside us as we read the story. If she isn’t, we haven’t done our job.
Therefore writing Dr. T’s character forced a plunge into places I had no interest in going. A person like her would not have come into this beautiful world looking for a kid to control, manipulate, or seduce. There had to be a reason that created massive wounds in her psyche.
Writing this story reminds me of my friend Rebecca’s remarks on why we write. She and I had been asked to do a reading from one of our books. She grabbed the lecturn and said,
“Our stories force us to confront characters we may prefer not to know. The nuances of a personality that is both heroic and cowardly; brilliant and inept; noble and wretched.
Our research takes us to far-flung places as we grapple with the complexities of new stories and protagonists.”
Indeed Rebecca, indeed.
The book will be released in
the next six to eight weeks. First, we need to run the manuscript though editing and proofing. Then design.
Once the advanced review copy is done, I’ll send it out for three reviews.
So release late summer.
Back to the ancient world with a story about the early life of King David: One Smooth Stone.