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Archive for November, 2009

The Death of a Good Woman

I killed Hannah today. I knew she would have to die.  I had thought about it for months, contemplating her life and planning her death down to the last detail.  This morning as I made my way through the gym, from jumping rope in the empty racquetball court, to lifting weights in the free weight room, I thought through the scene that would be.  How would she react when she realized this was her day to die?  What would her family think afterwards? Does she really have to die?  Does she deserve it?

She definitely did not deserve it.  She had done nothing in life but help other people – her husband, her daughter, her best friend.  The only flaw she had was her inability to put herself first.  Her belief that everybody had to be taken care of and that she could just wait.

For an hour and a half I worked my way through the gym, hoping I could hold my emotions in while I weaved my plan.  This is not one of those things you can talk about.  It has to be kept in, even when the deed is done, allowing it to sit and take seed.

The grieving started as I stood naked in the shower thinking about the first time Hannah met John, the first time she laid eyes on her beautiful newborn child, her surprise friendship with Joyce.  Did I have another choice?  Was there another way?

No, she had to die.  I sat at the computer, eyes closed begging my heart not to break as the words poured out of me and I killed Hannah.  My heart failed me and the tears flowed.  The sobs broke through and I had to watch as the scene played out, as her husband and daughter and best friend lost this woman who had meant so much to each of them for so long.

My writing partner assures me that this is a good thing.  If I am this attached to my main character, it has to be a good thing.  My readers will become attached.  They will love Hannah and cry when she dies.  This doesn’t help my broken heart.  I sit here now wondering how I will get through the rest of my day.  My eyes are red and puffy and I still wonder if I should go back.  Should I bring her back to life, leave my novel unfinished and let her continue to traipse through my mind doing good deeds and making others happy?

I killed sweet, beautiful, generous Hannah today – wife of John, mother of Hannah, best friend of Joyce.  I killed her this morning.  But that was this morning.  This afternoon, I know I will cry again, I will mourn her as the family files through the church and stands by the grave.  I will comfort each of them and help them find meaning in her death and in what she had left behind.

What lies ahead for them, I do not know.  Where they will end up, I have yet to decide.  Tomorrow morning I will head back to the gym, the treadmill this time.  I will run and change their lives, move them forward and hopefully find a happier place for all of us.

I am quickly learning that writing a novel isn’t about putting words on paper.   It is about letting a character run through your heart and become a part of you.  It is about creating a world for your characters and letting them live, giving them reign to decide their own fate and letting it happen even as it breaks your heart.  The words come easy, it’s the letting go that is hard.

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