Sunday, 28 April 2013

Digging Deep

Last time, I talked a wee bit about the characters in "Absolution" - just a general round table introduction, if you will.  Now, let's delve a little deeper.

I mentioned the premise behind the story - what if you did something so awful that you let guilt and fear overwhelm you?  Instead of facing up to what you'd done, you decided to take what you assumed to be the easier option: you didn't face up to it at all.  You left.

That's what Jack did.  He thought that leaving would be easier, but was it really?  While everyone else got on with their lives, he's been living in limbo, his mind in an endless loop as the events of that night replay over and over in his head.  He hasn't moved on.  In fact, running away from the problem has meant that he's still living in the past.

One of the things I kept saying to myself as I wrote from Jack's point of view, was that he's beating himself up over what happened.  He's reliving it constantly, not only wondering what he could have done differently, but knowing for sure.  That has to be a living hell.  Because he's not there to talk through any of this with anyone, he's internalising it.  A problem shared is a problem halved, right?  Therefore, keeping it to yourself just doubles it until it becomes seemingly insurmountable.

He knows he did the wrong thing by leaving, but as the days turn into weeks and months, then years, he realises that going home now wouldn't make any difference to anyone - despite what Tom says.  The longer you leave these things, the harder they are to face.

I think we can all relate to that one, in some form or another.

Therein poses the dilemma: stay or go?  There's no such thing as the easy way out.  Both options have their negatives, but staying and facing the music at least affords you your self-respect.  And that's a precious thing to lose.

In the meantime, Jack's been doing his best to live with the guilt (using a very dubious crutch) and promising himself that one day, he would fix everything.  The only problem with that of course, is that "one day" inevitably comes when you least expect it.

Time to step up and try to make amends - if that's even possible.  Second chances are a rare gem indeed.  When you're given one, you know that it's time to pull out all the stops because this is it.

Next time, we'll see things from Ally's point of view but until then, I wanted to share the story synopsis with you, as promised...

A freak accident, a moment in time, and life changes forever. Stay or go - there's no such thing as the easy way out.

The accident wasn't his fault but in the horrific aftermath, Jack's actions may have possibly caused consequences he could never have foreseen. Consumed with guilt and unable to listen to reason, he takes the only option he believes is open to him: he disappears. Living a quiet life away from everyone he loves, he drops off the grid but the memories continue to haunt him.

Four years later, a funeral signals a homecoming fraught with tension as he finally forces himself to face up to the consequences of his actions. Betrayed and angry, his former best friend Callum wants nothing more than to see him disappear once again - for good this time. Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend Ally has moved on and he can see that his return is anything but easy for her. People change, life goes on and things are never as simple as they seem.  The past has a habit of catching up with you when you least expect it.

Living with regret and guilt almost tore him apart, but there is no guarantee that trying to make a
mends will soothe his soul or help the people he loves the most. 

Courage has many faces.  Fighting for what you believe in, no matter what.  Showing strength of mind and body when the cards are stacked against you.  Rising to the challenge and playing through the pain. 

And yet sometimes, courage means simply standing your ground.

I love to hear your comments (sorry Di for accidentally deleting yours - stupid phone!!) so if you feel so inclined, let me know your thoughts!


The journey begins...

I'm not a huge fan of Twitter.  That maximum-character-count thing does nasty things to my insides - I think I'm allergic (I also think it's genetic).  Facebook is great, except you only get to see a few sentences before the dreaded blue text announcing "see more" appears, which is similar to the music beginning to play when someone's accepting their Oscar.  Your time's up, dude - get off the stage.

So, I thought perhaps a blog might give me a little more freedom.  I'll be linking my Facebook page back here, which should keep my Facebook posts short and to the point (which is what the techy geeks say would be best).  Fine.  Who am I to argue?  I'll jump on board there (mind the gap).

Post 1: The upcoming release of my book, "Absolution".  Needless to say, I'm pretty excited!  The journey began for me roughly four years ago, when an idea seeded itself in my fertile mind.  But before I get into that, let me just add right here that I've been accused of being a dark horse by family and friends since the announcement of my publishing contract.  Yes, I agree there - the fact that I like to write is not really public knowledge.  I've mentioned it in passing, here and there, now and again, but I don't go around wearing "I AM A WRITER" t-shirts.  It's a private thing - something I've enjoyed for a long time (probably since I was about ten or eleven years old, or thereabouts).  I took a long break from it when life got busier (travel, marriage, kids - aka: shortage of "me time"), but about four years ago I decided I'd like to give this writing thing another crack.  I write at night, usually.  When the house is quiet, and everyone is in bed, accompanied by coffee, my beloved companion (hence the title of this blog).

But back to "Absolution".  I've found over the years that a story comes to me from a single, often simple, idea.  A question, usually.  With "Absolution", it was this:

What would happen if you felt so guilty about something, you ran away?

As in, disappeared.  Dropped off the grid - no goodbyes, no farewell parties, just left.  Poof!  Gone.  Drove off into the night, never to be heard from again.  Started a new life somewhere else - your own version of Witness Protection (sans FBI involvement).  I think we've all had this fantasy at some point in our lives - you do something stupid/embarrassing/downright painful, and you don't WANT to face the music.  You wish you didn't have to.  Most of the time you do, but it's not easy.  You figure leaving would be easier, but you don't.  You stay, you work through it. 

But what if you chose what was behind door number one instead?  And so, an idea was born.  Characters were created almost immediately.

Jack - the Houdini in this story.  Guilt grabbed hold of him by the throat and no matter what he did to fight it, he couldn't breathe. Before his brain had even begun to contemplate the ramifications of his decision, he was gone - leaving everyone and everything he knew behind.

Ally - the strong one.  This is an ironic statement, considering everything she's been through.  She should be the one who's been circling the drain after Jack's sudden departure, but she isn't.  She's possessed of a fighting spirit - an attitude that has pulled her back from the brink more than once. 

Callum - the gladiator.  Callum's used to fighting, too.  He stepped in to pick up the pieces after Jack disappeared.  He's loyal and direct.  He doesn't do grey areas - Ally needs him, he's there. After what Jack did, he can go to hell - that friendship had an expiry date.

Tom - the glue.  Tom's the unfortunate soul stuck in the middle.  Jack kept in touch, but he never knew where he was, exactly.  He never gave up on Jack coming home one day, but in the meantime, there were people here who needed him.  Weakness was never an option.

Maggie - the dependable one.  Maggie fought just as hard to keep things on an even keel as Callum, but she did it far more calmly.  Jack was dead to her.  Anyone who left the way he did wasn't worth her time - she had enough on her plate.

Jane - the supporting player.  Her relationship with Callum suffered as a result of what happened, but she's a big girl.  She knows when to call it a day.  It's not like it was his fault.  Ces la vie, right?

So, these characters cemented themselves in my head.  Each of them was fighting for something - sometimes it was the same thing, sometimes it was something else entirely.  Each of them found a strength inside of them that they never knew existed.

And for my first post, I think I'll leave it there.  More to come soon, including a full synopsis of the story so you know what to expect.  As for me, I'm going to finish this coffee, tidy up after my family (apparently loading the dishwasher should be listed under 'special talents' on my CV/resume), and get some shut-eye.  Coffee only works for so long, you know ;-)


PS:  If you feel so inclined, feel free to leave me a comment below or on my Facebook page.  Thank you muchly!