Sunday, April 30, 2017

I won't give up - damn it!

If you have been following me on facebook you will know that my writers' group told me that they no longer wanted to read and/or critique my novel because my protagonist was too introspective, she was nameless, there wasn't enough dialogue and it was too safe.


My novel (which I wrote during the 2015 NaNaWriMo) is about a depressed woman who has decided, once and for all, that at the end of the month she will end her life.

It has been something she has been putting off for months, and this month, the Month of November she is determined.

However, even though the decision has been made she still goes on with her life, her routine, and this month her routine gives her some insights into the eventual decision she makes.

I included snippets of the Novel through the Month of November 2015 if you are interested. The first entry is featured in my sidebar to the right.

Anyways, to make a long story short, or maybe a short story longer, I wrote something yesterday to add to one of my chapters.

Trigger Warning if you have ever contemplated suicide or know someone that has this may be a difficult read. It was a difficult write.

The thoughts would cross her mind from time to time.

Driving on the highway, going one hundred and twenty kilometers per hour, the thought would flit across her conscious mind that she could just turn the wheel and head into a tree, or an oncoming car or off a cliff.

Or sitting on a ferry, quietly reading and eating a muffin, the thought would come. I could just stand up, walk outside to the railing, and step over.

Or walking on the side of the road, it would be so simple to take one step to the right into the oncoming traffic.

Or in the mornings while she shook out the pills she seemed to so desperately need, sometimes she would shake out the whole bottle and imagine how easy it would be to swallow them all.

Or swimming, even swimming, she would imagine not coming up for the air her lungs so desparately craved. Instead she could just breath in a tablespoon of water. Just one tablespoon.

The thoughts would be fleeting enough, and she never turned the wheel, never got up from the cafeteria chair, never stepped to the right, never inhaled the water, never swallowed the handful of pills.

But still, and all, the thoughts had found their way front and center and for a few hours they would haunt her.

She had been there before - staring out the window at the cedars and the rain, the birds and the clouds, thinking that finally she understood why one would take their own life.

It isn't about it being simpler. It isn't about others being better off without you. It was simply about wanting the pain to stop that much. Like tearing off a bandage. Certainly the fall, the drowning, the crash, the overdose would be unpleasant for a split moment.
But then?
Then it would be over.

She knew these thoughts would eventually take her back to the doctor's office, back to therapy, back to perhaps a change in medication.

She knew these thoughts if they persisted should lead her to tell someone.

But what if this month they didn't.

What if this month she let nature, or fate, or flaw just take its course.

But then she would think of her son's blue eyes, her husband's touch, her sisters' voices, her brothers' humour, her friends's concerns, even the annoying cat and she would make the call.

She always had put others before herself and in this case it was perhaps a good trait to have.



  1. Well you already know how I feel about their opinions?
    Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing just like you told me years ago to keep painting! xoxo

  2. It's real and raw and utterly accurate.

    1. Editing suggestion: your style, when low, is characterised by short fractured sentences. Consider sentence length as a way for your prose to reflect the protagonist's state of mind.

    2. Another editing suggestion: take a piece of your novel that is bothering you and recast it in First Person narrative. It might help you sort out what she is really trying to say or feel. It could help you discern there is an issue either with characterisation, or with the differantiation between protagonist and authorial voice or point of view.

    3. Sorry if I'm being annoying...

    4. And for the typo in differentiation... it's 5:00am

  3. You should definitely keep on writing, Mary-Anne. I would agree with Wendy about writing it in the first person, especially that passage as I feel that it would pack even more of a punch.

  4. Good tips from Wendy and I agree, Don't give up! I don't follow you on FB but sounds like all you were getting was criticism and not constructive comments. That is not helpful. Believe in yourself.

  5. Suicide has been a taboo subject for a long time and it sounds like the writing group are doing precisely what they accuse your story of: being too safe.
    Don't worry, there are braver folks in the world who are willing to confront the taboos and overturn them for the good of everyone. When we bring these issues into the open, the discussion that springs forth can bring about good outcomes. The public conversation in Australia right now has been straddling the delicate line between open conversation and caution to avoid it becoming a trigger factor but at least it is no longer a total taboo.

  6. When I read your writing above, I worry about you as the author, wondering how close the protagonist's feelings are to those you may have experienced in the past or perhaps recently? Removing yourself from negative energy (non-constructive criticism) is a good idea and I hope you can surround yourself with positive influences as much as possible; not to change the narrative of your writing or the topic of conversation, but to help you along the road to 'not being sad'. Keep writing and expressing your ideas. These insights will help others.

    1. Thank you Jodie, yes the protagonist and I have much in common, and I am surrounded by good and loving support from many places. Including from you.


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