I’m Afraid (an update on my latest WIP)

I got an email last night from my editor with her notes on my recent work-in-progress. I haven’t talked much about this book because it’s so personal for me. It’s a true story and that makes it ridiculously difficult to get it right. Reality is all based on perception so I’m terrified I’ll get some “facts” wrong.

The story takes place while I was attending high school in Maryland and right now, it reads like a boring chronology. Sarah (my editor) articulated what I was feeling about the book – it lacks emotion. It lacks depth. This is because I am afraid. I am afraid I will write those emotions and then feel them as deeply as I did then. This man has wrecked me over and over, merely with the memories of our time together. We knew each other and talked as close friends for less than a year. It’s been 8 years since I saw his face. And pathetically, I let him haunt me still.

I always knew this would be my first book. Since it happened, I knew. I had to tell my side of it because I was silenced back then. I was told to lie, for his sake. But immediately after I left Maryland, I was still broken and couldn’t tell my tale yet. I got married and got divorced. I moved  back to Maryland, six years after I fled, and even then, the pain was still too much for me to bear. I couldn’t face it all yet.

I only became brave enough to put it all down on paper in the last six months. I mean, I’ve tried to write the story a million times so I have snipits that I’ve compiled over the years. I wrote and tried to include everything that was important, but Sarah tells me I’m missing a lot of background and personality. She asked me about what music I listened to back then and it brought me to my reason for my superficial writing: I am afraid.

Music is a totally emotional experience for me. It’s not just notes and lyrics. Combine a passion for music with a trainwreck love story and you have Taking Back Sunday. At least for me, especially with certain songs released during that time, those lyrics could have been specifically tailored for us. And that’s truthfully why I omitted talking about music altogether. It’s not just a subject that I can just touch on. There’s lyrics I would want to quote and that costs money in the publishing world. Without those specific words, I’m afraid it won’t be complete. Maybe I’m just putting too much stock in words, as always.

Sarah also mentioned to me that I should be more descriptive about what he told me. I’m purposefully vague when it comes to the secrets that this man confided in me. Some of them, I don’t remember. But most are burned in my memory. There are both trivial and serious secrets he shared with me, but my heart tells me not to reveal any of them, except what directly involves me. I don’t think I have the right to tell those other things. They’re not my stories to tell…

I can see where she’s coming from. The reader is going to be curious about what he told me. And I know it probably doesn’t matter at this point, right? I haven’t talked to him in years. When I’ve tried, it’s been pathetic. He probably didn’t ever actually love me and he doesn’t really deserve my loyalty, does he? Regardless of every reason why I shouldn’t, I will always try to protect him.

Ha. I talk about protecting him while I’m discussing my book that’s going to be published detailing our friendship. And it won’t be hard to guess his name. There are lots of people in my life who would read just this entry and know exactly who I mean. And if curious readers are interested, Google is a magnificent tool.

I want my book to be successful. What writer doesn’t? But I am also afraid of that because it would probably harm him. I still love him. I don’t want to ruin his life all over again. I’m certain he doesn’t even think of me anymore. If my book does really well, then it’ll bring back everything. I know that I hurt him back then, but he had the advantage of having a fully developed brain. He probably bounced back relatively quickly while that event was etched into my personality. He impacted me in countless ways.

I don’t really go into that side of things in the book. I thought reflections would be improperly placed along the plotline. That’s why I wrote a terrible Prologue which gives you every important fact of my childhood right from the get-go. I’m thinking that’s probably not my best route.

I just have to tell the story better. But here’s my problem: part of me doesn’t want to because it could hurt him, another part is afraid to get my heart broken again, and the third is just screaming, “YOU HAVE TO!” How do I resolve this conflict? How do I quiet two-thirds of my mind on this matter?

I wonder what the final draft will look like…


2 thoughts on “I’m Afraid (an update on my latest WIP)

  1. Have you thought of possibly changing it so it isn’t about you even though it really is…you don’t have to expose that. It would then become more of a fictional book based on a possible life experience. Then you could add about the secrets and if you don’t tell them exactly right it would be ok because they are fiction anyway. Just a thought.

    • Yeah I have definitely thought of that, but it didn’t feel right. It has to be the truth because it never was before. I can’t create a fiction story based on this real event because it will still be up in the air about what’s fact and what’s fiction. I need it to be clear.

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