Today’s subject may be a little unusual, but still, it makes sense to reflect upon when one is involved in the subject of writing, be it novel, drama, short-story, poetry, thriller (especially thriller!).
I’m writing about guilt. Author’s guilt. The experience of guilt about how the characters are lead through or thrown into various ventures by their author. I mean, when the events are unpleasant or morally ticklish, of course. If it was pleasant or virtuous, there would be no sense of guilt afterwards. Nor during the writing itself, as the story unfolds and develops.
It sounds probably strange.
I remember when I was engulfed in this thriller, and a character had to die, because otherwise the story could not evolve. As the nice young policeman went on with his duty, he had to meet his fate. Because the sending of those Interpol agents depended on his being killed, and his murder being disguised as a car accident. The visit of the Interpol agents in that seemingly falling-apart Russian plant would not take place and the whole story would just vanish into a non-existing world, a world where policemen never die, corruption never takes place, and everyone is playing by the rules, a world where pollution is just a word on a paper and not a palpable, quantifiable, ugly reality, a world where guns are not invented yet, where kids are never abandoned or cancer-stricken, a world where virtue is the golden rule governing every relationship, and where love is not a rogue reality but still a concept worth hoping for.
Such a world, alas, does not exist.
So the nice friendly policeman Sergueï had to go. I felt so bad about that. I considered : he might be just wounded… maybe? Although only a fictional character, I took interest in him, his shyness, his quietness, his willing to be more audacious to ask the bold Katrina out, his care to carry out his duty clean and sharp.
And I knew (synopsis, thank you), that his mate the Interpol agent had to disappear too. And the second Interpol agent had to remain prisoner until he got rescued.
And…I lost my sleep. Yep, for fictional characters I knew nothing about 3 month prior.
Why was that?
I tell you what : it was guilt. I felt guilty to create characters only to trap them in a story they could never escape from. Mr Synopsis told me so : “Crush their hopes, weaken their fighting spirit, and throw them into the iron clad of an untouchable villain with high connections and protections.”
I talked about this feeling around me, with close persons. Turned out, I was too virtuous, I cared a great deal too much about non-existent things. And it’s right.
So, I stopped making knots in my brain and proceeded with further creation. And the development held a good surprise with the members of the forensics team sent to examine the shambled apartment of the hero (yes, a bomb exploded there).
So, for that guilt feeling, you know what to do? Here’s an advice.
Take it with you for a drink…
Listen to its plea carefully…
Then, drown it into a nice Irish coffee and confess your sin. Your absolution lies in your writing something worth reading.
Don’t feel guilty about the author’s guilt. You know the best part ?
Guilt, like sorrow, can swim, and therefore, never drowns. Never. You’re built with the feature or not. But more likely, with. (And it gets stickier with age).
Yeah… you, Nasty Guilt of the Author…