After yesterday’s caterwauling, I spent some time considering exactly what this new novel is trying to say. I’m already 10K into it, and while some of it’s not bad, too much meandering about was starting to drive me nuts. Afternoon rain fell in the valley, but I managed a walk later on, and during that break, staring into blue sky streaked with cloud, I realized the crux of the story. And as often happens while writing, fiction merges with truth, albeit well after the fact.
While my dad died of heart failure, he had battled prostate cancer the last five years of his life. I know a lot about that condition, and it was always in the back of my mind to use that knowledge within a novel, this book actually, if I ever got around to writing it. And while I’ve developed the plot around that issue, it’s one thing to make notes or even vaguely consider it, wholly different to finally start fleshing out those memories. I’m not sure that has been entirely what has held me back, but it’s certainly been a roadblock. This novel isn’t merely about a soccer player trying to recapture his past. It’s about the cancer which led to the end of my dad’s life, and how those of us who loved him let him go.
Okay, that’s a mouthful, but I don’t write anything but what’s in my heart. Four years ago Dad was advised to start chemotherapy, and from that point, cancer truly became our enemy. How the elements of that fight will figure into Kendall’s story remains to be seen, but now I have a clearer view of the fictional horizon. And believe me, that helps enormously. Rare are the times I don’t know what I’m trying to say in a book, although I might take a while to get there. But when it’s so personal, how to separate my brain from my heart? Kendall and his family are about to leave Tennessee for California, and while a bit of melodrama will distract them, soon enough the shite is going to hit the fan, ahem. By then I should be comfortable in parceling out my memories amid the prose, while Kendall is again faced with more angst than desired.
But this time, he will get closure. At the end of the day, that matters. I let my father go completely aware he was heading to a better place, and had lived a full life here. But sometimes loss needs to be given one last hurrah, in sharing it with others. This book is for my dad, and those struggling to say goodbye. No wonder it’s been such a beast for me to relinquish….
Today’s word count: 1,467