Mirror Image is a manuscript for adults which runs at about 90,000 words at the moment (I want the finished product to be around 100,000 words). It’s not a fantasy project, like most of my works-in-progress. This manuscript fits into the…paranormal genre, I think. I’m a little uncertain because the changes I need to make in the next edit seems to be pushing it into another genre and my mind is telling me “General Fiction”.
Some of you may have guessed by now, even though I’ve never actually said this publicly before, but the manuscript is about depression, grief and suicide. This makes it a very dark read, but these are topics I know and understand all to well having lost a son to suicide in 2006.
The first version was especially difficult to write. There is a lot of “our” story in the words and emotions. One of my readers, a person who experienced the loss with me, told me that he sobbed as he read parts of it because he could clearly see me and him going through the moment in real life. Of course he could because I was basing my words on what happened to us.
Anyway, writing the manuscript left me feeling strained and, sometimes, depressed. I shed a lot of tears as I wrote. But I forged on because I needed to write the story. It was important to me, and I felt it was important to educate other families – parents and their children – by making them all suicide aware. For these reasons, I battled through the sobs and depression and continued putting words on paper.
Now, the second (or is it the third) version of the manuscript has been completed and, as mentioned, I’ve had a couple of people read it. The reader I mentioned above encouraged me to keep things real, but the other reader (who has never experienced suicide) told me that the manuscript is too dark and depressing for “normal” (his word, not mine) people to want to carry on with. So what do I do?
I have attempted to make changes to the story. I have even gone back to the drawing board and tried to replan it from scratch. But…it’s not coming together in a way that I’m happy with. In the end I put it aside and haven’t done anything writing related since. There’s no doubt in my mind that my writing lapse has everything to do with the job feeling too big and, at the same time, the feeling that I’m loosing the essence of the story by making the changes.
The current version has six viewpoints. I know I keep going on and on about this, but it’s important! I want to explain why I have so many viewpoints and maybe the puzzle will fall into place…for you, for me.
Two viewpoints are from siblings points of view. Each are experiencing their grief differently and neither of them are coping that well. One, however, has someone who is pushing them to face the issues; whilst the other sibling is trying to get through it alone. The two viewpoints are deliberate and show the difference between having support and not having it.
One viewpoint is from a parent’s point of view. Grief is different for everyone, and the parent is also having a hard time of it. This viewpoint focuses on the grief, but moreso on the fear felt for the surviving children and how that obsession can be more dangerous than anyone can imagine.
Two other viewpoints are from friends perspectives. One viewpoint is a friend that thinks suppressing the grief is the best medicine and she takes it upon herself to not let her friend dwell on the death of her brother. The other viewpoint is a friend who knows talking about it is the best option, but she has issues of her own to overcome that won’t allow her to approach her friend in the right way. I think a majority of reading will identify with one of these viewpoints and it’s important to get a message across here.
The last viewpoint is another outsider looking in, this one believes grief is a short term problem that can be gotten over in a couple of weeks. It’s all about the attitude! Both my readers really liked the way I wrote this character, but for different reasons. And, believe it or not, you’d be surprised how many people really share this character’s point of view where grief is concerned…until they experience it themselves.
Six viewpoints and there’s a reason for every one of them. If this manuscript was published, I’d be trying to raise suicide awareness first and foremost, but I would also be attempting to tell onlookers that grief isn’t an illness which automatically fixes itself after a couple of weeks. I would be encouraging people to let the griever talk about what has happened to them and what they are feeling. I would be encouraging people to cry with the griever; it’s good to cry, it does help to know that you are allowed to cry and feel…and share. Support means to listen and cry with the person, not brushing the problem under the carpet for someone else to fix up later (because usually everyone is doing the same thing and no one cleans up the mess).
I feel passionate about the subject matter, the messages I want to give to the reader and the possibility of saving and/or helping another family that may find themselves in my situation. If I delete viewpoints, then I feel as if I’m only doing part of the job…so I’ve decided (as of this minute) that I will not delete any of the viewpoints. This story needs all of them and they will all remain. I will find another way to battle the “darkness” problem.
If you got to the end of this post, thank you for listening. Writing about the problem has definitely helped.