22 January, 2015

Life Imitates Art

So, in line with the above quote and the anti-mimesis title, I will begin by explaining that I have always had an immature time trying to deal with reality/life/problems, etc.

What I hope isn't the case is that the same holds true for the characters portrayed in my novels.

The issues I inflict on my characters, their personality traits, the struggles they'll face, and even the roads they'll take to solve the issues . . . I know them.

I understand the emotion involved. And, if I haven't been there personally, you can bet I know at least one person who has and that they unburdened their soul to me at some point.

Even knowing, understanding, and having experienced life, I still struggle in reality and in my writing to come to terms, deal with, handle in a mature fashion, and rise above them -- as do my characters.

I'd like to believe it all makes sense when I write even if none of it does in reality, but more often than not I've had to go back and re-read certain scenes just to make sure that is the case.

Because I don't think I know all the answers to all of life's problems, or that I'm properly or even successfully dealing with my own.

Well, let's just say it's much easier to WRITE a resolution to a conflict than it is to discover one in reality and then implement it.

Case in point: tonight I am preparing to attend the funeral of my ex father-in-law.

The X and I were married for 13 years when he walked away.

It was a bitter, one-sided divorce with him having found another woman to spend the rest of his life with and do all the things he never bothered or wanted to do while with me and the kids.

But, that isn't the point of this blog.

The point is to help me (and maybe even you) understand the emotions involved with reality versus what we read (or write) into a romance novel.

I have a terrific opportunity to learn from tonight's lesson because it is something I am in complete denial of right now.

Since he left me, I've never once laid eyes on this woman, and I never hope to, either.

I called my son and asked him to PLEASE tell his father to take that woman to the coffee shop in the basement of the funeral home between 7p and 7:30p so that I can attend the viewing in peace.

See. Lots of dumb stuff here. It'll be a learning experience meant to help me better understand myself as well as the characters I bring to life in my stories.

Going in, I'm obviously nervous about possibly bumping into HER. I truly believe I'll have a heart attack, no lie. She'll be drop-dead gorgeous, a thousand times more mature and pleasant. I also worry that he'll rub my nose in it, or say and do stupid things to make me look as bad as I already feel.

Not that any of this is likely to occur, it is just how I feel.

These are the types of emotions I try hard to instill in my characters to make them appear real to the reader. It's the after stuff I sometimes struggle with, both for them and for me.

So, here goes . . . I'm on my way to the funeral home.

And, I'm back.

This is how it all went down.

I started jabbering to my mother in the car; the way I tend to do when anxious about anything. It wasn't so much what she said or even how she said it and more about me and the way I was behaving that made me just say STOP (to myself).

I don't love this man anymore, and I really don't give a damn who he's with or why he's with her. I'd rather be alone than with him and forced to live in that nightmare, hellish existence again. He made me hate him, and now it just doesn't matter anymore.

So, I entered the funeral parlor and signed the guest book. I accepted a hug from him, but I wasn't able to make full eye contact. I said something about being sorry for his loss, but I knew it wasn't true and am fully aware that he felt it, too.

Shame-based confrontation that makes me feel stupid and resentful for having let him manipulate me to the point of being unable to trust or confide in him, much less show my true self in his presence.

Then I went over and said hello to his mother. Even while we were married and I was a part of that family, she always gave me this distant notion of not liking me entirely. I still felt that way tonight and became tongue-tied.

I was anxious to be away from her but just as anxious to say anything that might help to console her without it being about me OR her. I think I failed.

And then a third issue: having to view the body.

I never liked my father-in-law.

His father, to me, was the epitome of everything that was wrong with his son. Heck, they even look alike.

I remembered the way that man used to talk down to me, outright accuse me of being a bad wife and mother to my children, etc.

The last words spoken between us were ugly and brutal. He had called to demand (yes, demand, and in as self-righteous and condescending a tone as you can imagine) an honest answer for what I had done to make his son walk away from his vows (the guy was a religious fanatic, born-again bible thumper to the enth degree).

I kept warning him not to provoke me, and that if he was so interested in our personal issue, then he needed to talk to his son and not me, but that only made the man more belligerent and mean until I finally shouted, "Because he committed adultery!" (deliberate use of a religious term meant to drive my point home) and then I hung up on him.

I never wanted to see that man's face again.

A few months ago, on a stormy night filled with plenty of flooding rains, flashing lightning, and cracking thunder, I had to drive over to their house and help the x mother-in-law pick his Alzheimer's struck ass up off the bedroom floor. It wasn't easy having to see him after so many years, and it sure wasn't easy seeing him again tonight.

But, I did it. 

I also didn't give a damn about the other woman.

I did, however, find myself glancing about the crowded room once in awhile, to see if anyone was looking at me funny, and I did meet a few unfamiliar gazes, but I never stared back long enough to make a connection.

There was a woman there with the largest ass I'd ever seen before. It was huge, people. I could only hope it was her.


So, I confronted my demons and a past I'd rather forget ever occurred.

It is important to keep it all in mind when writing so as to develop scenes that are as realistic as they are compelling and so that the reader can relate on some level.

. . . the way art imitates life.

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