Friday, April 16, 2010

The foul rag and bone shop of the heart

There's this scene in Linger. A series of three scene, to be specific. A death, a funeral, and vengeance taken. I hate writing it. Absolutely hate it. It's an emotionally and physically brutal thing to put my pov character, Aislinn, through.

It's also the thing I'm most proud of having written.

One of the hardest things for me to do when I write is to put the emotions on the page. It's a difficult thing for me to do in real life, too - to make myself accessible enough to my friends that they know what I'm feeling. I don't want to burden anyone with my difficulties. So when I write, it's easier for me to use my skill with language to obscure the lack of emotion than it is to wallow in the messiness. And perversely, the times when I most need to make things real on the page - during the difficult, wrenching scenes - are the times that I'm most likely to feel that it's all too much.

This scene was the first time I didn't do that. Where I looked at what the story needed, and how it needed it, and then sat down and wrote that. I remember shaking while writing the scene, and feeling nauseated. A small part of me was really disturbed that what I was writing had been in my head. Most of me was just cold, watching things unfold, and knowing I had just found one of the foundational moments in my book. When I finished, I hugged my dog and cried.

Then, of course, I got scared. I didn't even reread that part of the book when I went through any of the previous rewrites and revisions. I knew I had gotten it right, because I remembered how horrible it was to write. There was no reason to put myself through that again.

I looked at it again last night. I had to. One of the goals of this revision is to make the emotion on the page more obvious. I knew I would be betraying myself and my story if I only did that where it was easy. So I revised the scene, making it better (worse?). It was horrible - not the scene, the writing of it. But I couldn't just leave that part of the story alone, because it was hard to live in those emotions, because I hated writing it, because part of me still can't believe that came out of my head. It is, perhaps, the most horrible thing I've ever put down on paper. And the one I am proudest of writing.


  1. Hey Kat, I'm almost through "Linger", and will hopefully mail off my comments on Monday, but I just wanted to tell you that I also think that this scene is particularly strong, and I'm glad (for the sake of the book, and the story) that you wrote it.

  2. Thank you! (For reading, and for saying that.)