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William Lashner's PI-Writing Blog

Why We Do What We Do

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Every once in a while you wonder why the hell you're going through all this and then a great moment happens that lifts everything, and I'm not talking about the business side, I'm talking about the writing side.

I'm working on a Tyler Knox book where one of the main characters is this crusty old federal agent who committed an act that destroyed his family years ago.  He's been full of great regret ever since.  Through the whole of the section he's really looking forward to death, even going so far as to caress the cigarettes he hopes will eventually kill him.

Then, while chasing a dangerous terrorist, the quarry drops a bomb on him and as the explosion starts to rip through him, he thinks again of that one terrible act that ruined everything.  All through the section he had been thinking of death as a great relief and so, as death presses on him now, I figured he'd be twisted with agony and despair.  But that's not what he feels.  Instead he feels love, and not his love for his doomed wife and son, but instead, out of nowhere, their love for him, and it is the sweetest thing that had ever happened to him, that singular moment of love.  It is wildly out of character, and was unexpected for both him and for me, but as it started pouring out it felt just so right.  And the reason it was right was the reason he was still on the job, the reason he was in the spot of the bombing in the first place.  That love was driving him all along, he and I just didn't know it yet until the words came out.

And the emotions I felt for the old guy were as real as the emotions he was feeling on the page, imagine that.

If you're open to it, the story will tell you where it's going.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the idea of death as a relief haunts me at times. It's like a dark angel lurking in my subconscious and something to be resisted and confronted at various times.

April 15, 2010 at 8:09 PM  

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