Thursday, January 14, 2010

Write Your Heart Out

I believe strongly in writing your heart out. If you're like me, you know what I mean already. You know I mean it's good to drop your heart onto the written page and let it gush (at least in the rough draft). This has been an emotional week for me--lots of good things have happened and a few not quite as good.

And suddenly today, as I'm working through my book 2 revisions (one of the series' hidden themes never being too far from my mind) I typed in something very telling. A name that made me sit back and stare at the computer screen.

Here, I'll let you in on a little secret (eh, maybe not so much of a secret). In the town of Junction (where my story's cast) there are many things going wrong. One of them relates to a rash of teen suicides. In book 2 the problem deepens a bit, more hints are given, etc. And so it was, as I was editing book 2 that I nearly typed in one victim's name as Mike.

*big sigh*

In real life (something I have the luxury of being vaguely removed from thanks to a pseudonym or two), Mike was my little brother's best friend. He was absolutely brilliant (a proven fact, btw). He and my kid brother were best friends during middle school, high school and the early bits of college, though they attended schools with most of a country between them.

I was teaching in Florida when I got the call. Mike had killed himself. No one knew why (still, to this day we don't know). One day he was a very successful student at a very well-regarded school and the next day--dead. And he knew he was going to do it. How do I know? Because I saw the website he had posted with it's newest entry the day of his death. It showed a strange reflection-type picture of him, but it was blurred and skewed as he looked toward the camera. Beneath the photo was the date of his birth and the date of his death.

There aren't as many times as I'd like that I can remember exactly where I was when something significant happened, but that's one I can't shake. My brother changed after that day. He realized his friend had never really been the person he thought he knew. It was a huge blow to him and I hated Mike (I know, how petty, right?) for a long time because he tore apart his family and destroyed his best friend's sense of trust.

So now I'm sitting here wondering if I dare use the name Mike in book 2 as a boy the other characters barely knew. Something inside me says I should because it popped onto screen unbidden... But maybe I shouldn't considering how quick I was to hit backspace once I realized what I'd written.

I guess my point is: write your heart out, but think about why you're doing it.

Take care!


LovesSam said...

you write first with your heart and then with your head.

I say keep it, definitely. And this story really made me think of Hold Still by NIna La Cour, which is about a young girl trying to cope after her best friend committed suicide. You should read it :-)

Annarkie said...

I believe that odd random things don't pop up in your mind and transfer to the screen for no reason. (Gotta love the double negative!) Keep it. It was likely meant to be. Write on!

Heather said...

Wow. I must admit I probably would have automatically backspaced it too. But, I say keep it. It adds power to the work. Besides, it may have been your heart that deleted it. . .

Shannon Delany said...

I agree, LovesSam, we should always write first with our heart and then with our head. Did you read 13 Reasons Why? Powerful book. I'll have to find Hold.

Annarkie, I tend to agree. In my life the random stuff has generally reordered itself to be somewhat serendipitous. Hmm.

Heather, thank you. You've got a point about my heart perhaps being the part deleting it.

Thanks, ladies, I greatly appreciate your input. :-)

SarannaDeWylde said...


In this short time that I've known you, it seems as if everything you do is with your whole heart.

That's what heroines are made of, at least in my book.

So, if you wrote it, maybe that's what it was meant to be. A closure, or a tribute even.

As writers, we can give things that no one else can. :)

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you, Saranna. I take such words coming from you (my fabulous Amazon Goddess :-) as high praise. May we all write (as LovesSam said) first with our heart and then with our head.


Jennifer L Hart said...

Not only would I keep it, I'd add that little snippet into the dedication, if you don't already have one. Clearly this event affected you to the point where your subconscious needed an out. Maybe this will giv you and your brother the closure you both deserve.

Kay, I gotta get up, Dr. Freud wants his armchair back ;-)

soycazadoradesombrasylibros said...

Querida Shannon¡¡
I will waiting your book¡¡¡
I think that the best is write with your heart¡¡¡because heart guide you

besotes Maria

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Wow, what a touching story. I'm always sad when there's suicide involved, though I don't think that should stop you from using his name in book 2. Things come out for a reason, right? Use it as an opportunity for whatever you feel needs to be done, whether it be closure, remembrance, etc. :)

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frootjoos said...

I think you need a song: Brandi Carlile has a song called "That Year" written about a friend who killed himself in high school. She was angry at him for a very long time and I read somewhere that the song is part of her closure on the subject, written many years later.

Maybe if you feel like she does in the song then you should keep the name.

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you Jennifer and Maria--very good thoughts you have.

Hi Jenn. I think suicide is one of those things that always stays with us unfortunately.

Hi Anonymous--hope the post helps you.

Frootjoos--Thanks for mentioning that song. I'll definitely check it out. Thank you. *hugs*