Dead Characters … puzzles, love and loss


I have had a couple of conversations today about the books progress.  (Possible spoilers ahead, though I don’t really think so.)

It is actually getting to kind of a fun place because puzzle pieces are starting to snap into place. 

The outline helped tremendously.

Maybe that means I should outline sooner … except that isn’t how my head works.  I don’t start with a solid plan.  I start with a seed, but I never actually know what type of plant that seed will grow into.  Usually I *think* I know what kind of plant it will be, but it has happened that I wound up with tomatoes when I thought I was planting cantaloup.  Usually it is more like I wind up with Roma when I thought I was getting beef-steak, but, whatever.

Okay, enough of *that* metaphor!  *laugh*

I am deep enough into the story now that I am starting to see a deeper pattern.  The other day I had an internal monologue that went something like this:  “How did he get past her defenses?  Something had to have happened to turn him into that person for her. 

Oh!  That is totally how Ivan shows up.  If he were in trouble and …”  Ivan was just an ancillary character up until that moment.  He started as a vehicle for a snap-shot scene that I wanted to write to show a facet of Jill.  Now, suddenly, his presence makes a whole lot more sense.  I know who he is, and he is a whole lot more important than I realized when I first plopped him into the story. 

I love those moments.  It really is a bit like solving one side of a Rubik’s cube though.  It might be one step in solving the whole thing, or I might wind up having to completely scramble it again in order to get the rest of the pieces aligned properly for the final solution.  We’ll see. 

I am really mad at myself right now though, because I have realized that Jack is like that too.  The working title is Jack and Jill, but really Jack was just the launching pad for Jill’s story.  He was dead before the book began.   Thing is, their relationship is integral to who she is during the course of the book.  I have realized that it is really necessary to get to know him, and more importantly *them* for the aftermath to make any sense at all. 

So now I am in the position of fleshing out, and as a result falling in love with, a character who is ALREADY DEAD!  Why did I do that?  I don’t want him to be dead.  I want to hang out with him.  It is like I set myself up from the very beginning to be tortured.  I certainly wasn’t thinking that at the time, but how could I have not realized that I’d have to go there? 

I guess somewhere deep down I really am more than a bit of a masochist. 

It will be alright though, because I can wallow in all of the yummy goodness of Jack and Jill while it is time.  His loss?  Well, I know all of the yummy goodness that will come after that too, so it can’t be all that bad, right? 

*rolling my eyes*  Right.



When I die

A friend pointed me to this article from the Huffington Post – written by   featuring a facebook post written by Randy Clemens

I particularly appreciated this paragraph:

“Travel. See the world, if only through others’ eyes. Talk to strangers. Hear their stories and see things their way. Even if you disagree, you’ll be surprised to find that most people have a reason for the things they do and don’t do, and I always enjoy getting the “why” and “why not” behind their motives. Encourage others in their endeavors, entice them to create more beauty to overpower the bad that will always be present. We may not be able to eradicate the bad, but we can certainly opt out of participating in it.”

The whole thing made me think about family … and dealing with death, and even more important – dealing with life.  *smile*

Here is something that I wrote after attending a memorial service recently:

When I die, I want a party.

Like in the joke about the difference between an Irish Wedding and an Irish Wake … just prop me up in the corner and put a drink in my hand.

I want my friends, my family, my acquaintances and co-workers to gather together. Everyone should be welcome – especially the one’s who annoyed me, who taxed and vexed me, who judged me harshly, who hurt my feelings … and yet were still, somehow, a part of my life. Every one of them have made me who I am, and I am grateful. When I die – don’t bury me, but bury all the baggage. I won’t be carrying it – that is for certain.

Have a big old fashioned pot-luck with home-made potato salad, casseroles that no one ever makes except for these kinds of gatherings, fried chicken and jello-salads, and pie. There should definitely be pie.

I want music. Maybe everyone should bring a cd, or an mp3 … whatever works … My oldest son should play some Slipknot and remember the first concert we went to together. The youngest should play “All Star” by Smash-mouth and think about the first time I ever took him to a Casino. At some point “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” will come on, and my best friend will smile at the irony and an old joke between us. My daughter should put on Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld just so everyone can remember me on my knees screaming along (“Mom, don’t sing!”) – an Epic fool but full of laughter and fun.

There should be at least one toast with shots of tequila … good tequila.

Pass the bottle and share a tale – that time we went tubing and I locked the keys in the car at the top of the run instead of leaving them at the bottom with the car that was supposed to be our pick-up vehicle, the time we went to the City and bickered all afternoon about directions and where to park and when to eat …

Do we know someone who plays bagpipes? Amazing Grace on bagpipes … because more than any prayer, any words, any other moment … that song was the thing to give me goosebumps, to let me shed heart-broken, heart-healing tears when I lost my dad, and my grandfather.

Then another toast, and more music, and more memories to turn the tears into laughter … and more pie. Don’t forget the pie … and the tequila … and most of all … don’t forget the love. Because I have been blessed with a whole hell of a lot of love in my life … and when I die … that is what I want to leave behind.

Don’t have a funeral, don’t waste time on headstones and plots of ground. Don’t rent doves or send wishes on balloons or wallow in sadness and words. Prop me up in the corner, put a glass in my hand and celebrate, because I will be right there with you.

When I die … I’d like for those I leave behind to have a party. Remember me in vibrant colors of anger and laughter, silliness and sincerity. Celebrate the life I have lived, and hopefully the moments and places that I have touched them, and carry me on.

In reality, when I die, I hope that my loved ones will do whatever it is that they want and need to do to celebrate and to grieve … because it will be for them, and not for me … but this is my wish, my hope … the spot I am trying to carve out and create in the world.