Monday, February 7, 2011

Painful Memories Create Beautiful Writing

He grabbed my hand and pulled me from my seat and into the middle of their ruckus. In their game, the Pawnan tribe and my family has joined forces against the pirates (a certain few from the other group, who had pulled the short straw). They were planning to invade the ship, so it was up to I to make the final attack. There was no seriousness to this game in the least, and we wound up spinning in circles. It was so much fun, being here with my boys. Enjoying these precious moments that I’m sure were quite fleeting now. Moments that I had not had with them for seven years.
As I whirled around, taking a few of the Pawnan children and the boys with me, I spotted Damon and Ana back where I had left them. They were sitting cross-legged facing each other. Smiles were on both of their faces, as were expressions that I believed could only mean one thing.
My heart stopped and beat at three times its normal rate, all at the same time. Blood rushed to my ears. As I spun, time seemed to move in slow motion. Damon said something, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. It made Ana burst into a fit of giggles. I felt like I was going to vomit.
So many great things had happened in the last day, and yet now, it seemed as if none of that mattered.
Ana glanced at me, being pulled around in what had just been a joyous game. She smiled at me slyly, before returning to her conversation.
All of this time…I thought that Damon had feelings for me. Before I even left this home, I had felt something for him. It continued during my first two years in London. And even when I refused to remember, I had still loved him. And all the while, Ana had known about it. That day on the cliffs, she had told me that I needed to tell him. All of the hints at the two of us being together…she’d known.
I felt so utterly betrayed that I could almost cry.
For seven years, while I had been away, the two of them had grown closer. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if the boys had even mistakenly called her “Mother” at least once. Had Damon really tried to find me during all of that time? Or had he really been glad that I, simple, naïve, Elizabeth had been out of the way?
Sadness turned quickly to anger, as I realized all that Ana was capable of. She was a better craftsman, swordsman, huntress, and fighter than I was. Why had Damon even brought me back if I was nothing compared to the powerful Ana? To mock me of a life that I had missed out on because of a stupid mistake I made as a child?
I sat out on the rest of the games, but stayed close to the boys. I didn’t dare go anywhere closer to the two lovebirds.
Soon, the sun was beginning its final descent and it was time for us to go, before the Shadows haunted once more.
As we were about to leave, Ana pulled me aside. “Your next lesson begins tomorrow,” she started. “This time, your family will not be a part of it. You will be alone. Are you ready for that?”
I nodded, not daring to look her in the eye.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked. I shrugged and she shook her head, obviously brushing it off to something external. “Tomorrow,” she reminded.
I left her, making my way up the path to the woods. I soon overtook the boys, and became the leader. My pace was almost frantic. I suppose I was eager to be alone to wallow.
Halfway through the journey, another pair of footsteps matched the tempo of my own. I sighed to myself, looking down. I did not want to meet those golden eyes that I could feel boring into me, searching for a clue as to why I was acting the way I was. They would not see through me now. Not like this.

Betrayal. Dissapointment.

Those are perhaps the most raw human feelings...they open up our very souls and make us break up, break down and slowly fall apart piece by piece.

What you just read was an excerpt from my book (names and locations were changed for legal reasons, but you got the most of it). For the few years that I've been writing this book, this love triangle has been something I've been anticipating on writing. I knew that my main character, "Elizabeth" had to be in love with "Damon". She always had been. When she was taken away at the age of 10, she never knew if she was going to see "Damon" again. "Ana" was her 2nd best friend at that time. When E returns home, she falls for D again. However, she begins to believe that D & A are really the ones destined to love each other.

For all this time, I've been trying to determine just how to bring on this discovery. The hurt, the anger, betrayal, sadness, disappointment, confusion...all of it had to form one emotion that doesn't really have a name. But we all experience it at some point or other in our lives.

When I started this book and began to plot this scene, I was not experienced enough in the area of love. To tell the truth, I don't quite know what it's all about now either. However, there were experiences these past few years that lead me to understand how Elizabeth would feel.

The first one happened with this boy who became one of my best guy friends over the course of the school year. We were close. We flirted. I fell head over heels and I thought he had done the same. All was right in the world. On the night I thought he was going to officially ask me out, he made another love confession. One for one of my best girl friends. He wanted me to set them up.

I felt like killing myself to be perfectly honest. That year was tough enough, but this just threw me over the edge. All the love that I had pent up inside, ready to share, wound up deflating and turning into that emotion with no words.

The next story happened about a year and a half ago. There was this boy... He was something special. We related on many different levels. It seemed perfect. Except...he lived 700 miles away. I was foolish enough back then to believe that what we called love would surpass that distance. However, we broke up soon. He went out with another girl and I set my sight on one closer to home. We stayed friends.

But the long distance love happened again not 2 months later. This time it lasted quite a while. We grew closer, living for the times when we could talk with one another. Waiting until we could finally be together in the same place (I was supposed to go to a college 10 minutes from him). But when I went to visit that college, and him, he backed out of seeing me. As it turned out, he didn't know if he could truly deal with the relationship at such a close level. That hurt more than the first "love". We broke up, if you could even call it that through the distance, and remained friends for a time before I finally ended all communication with him.

So you see, dear reader, before the first love--when I first started this book--I had absolutely no experience with the pain that this scene would have needed. I knew the feelings of love, even if just kept to myself (that is, afterall, how "Elizabeth" keeps hers). But pain is a far more intricate emotion. It involves multiple facets.

You might make this as an everything happens for a reason post. But what I really take it as is a way to say that writers must take from what they know. What they have experienced. As much as I would love to, I couldn't write about the death of a loved one accurately, because the only relatives I've known who have died, did so when I was too young to have a true relationship with them.

I write what I know in hopes that it becomes more real. Because who really wants to read something made up rather than what we already know and feel?

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