Saturday, 14 December 2013

I'm Elaine

Of course I'm not. Unlike her, I've been spared the pain of losing my soul mate. I can't imagine how it must feel. Not one bit. On the other side, as a writer, creating a character who finds herself in exactly that situation, I have to put myself into her shoes and feel the pain, see through her eyes. It's not an easy task, but since I'm what others call an empathic person, I think I'm heading in the right direction.
I'd made the mistake to post this on a forum, where I fiercely criticise SP authors for the lack of story line or ability to write something compelling. Am I the ultimate writer? Hardly. I know that I can tell a decent yarn and create characters reader care for, but it doesn't make me a master of the craft. In addition to this, I specifically asked not to comment, mainly because, despite my being a harsh critique, I'm in a vulnerable state when it comes to writing. After almost a year of not being creative, my muse returned from the word-trip, throwing me out of kilter. It's a big deal to me to write again and, being in the early stages of a novel, the prospects of having to write a 'mere' 80k (that's what I aim for  with every novel and I know I need this amount of words to tell this story) is daunting. So, having posted that short excerpt which makes more sense when being read in context with the rest, was immediately 'edited' for show don't tell, despite my saying I'm not looking for suggestions on how to continue (my way out of the black hole). It's a first draft, which will be refined later on. I don't listen to anyone at this stage, because I've not even worked out where it's headed. Don't get me wrong, I can take criticism--when I'm asking for it. However, I know a few people are following this, so I'll keep posting here. This novel--above all--is my ... err ... come back for the lack of a better word, if you will. Not in that sensational sense, mind, but more to prove to myself that there's still the passionate writer somewhere in me.

While reading this, you may want to listen to this:


In a rush of panic, I turned onto my stomach to stick my nose into the pillow, inhaling deeply; there, a faint hint of John's shower gel. With a sigh, I let myself sink back, returning to the film. I had no idea what was going on, why the man on the screen ran through a building, shouting at everyone, but even if I'd known, it wouldn't have been of interest to me. The land line rang and I let the answer machine take care of it. It was blinking furiously already, thirty-odd messages, yet I haven't listened to any of them. They were probably condolences at first, and now concerned friends wondering if they could do anything for me. The answer was no. All I wanted was to be alone, even though, in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't healthy. How could it be? This was how an addict must feel in an ever-spinning circle. Only that I was addicted to sadness. It was all I had to be close to my husband, and I feared that, if I let go of it, I'd be betraying my vows to him. How could I possibly go out with Amy, like my mother suggested, and enjoy the evening, when John wasn't there to share it with me afterwards? How could this be right? It's only been fifty nine days since his accident. What are fifty nine days compared to forever? I wasn't sure how long I was supposed to cry myself to sleep every night, but I strongly believed that just under two months wasn't enough. We'd been together for almost four years, despite the age-difference, we'd proven our friends' and families' predictions that it wouldn't last wrong. I had broken up with my ex-boyfriend a day before I met John, who'd been single for a while. We both didn't know what had hit us and, within three weeks, I'd moved out of my shared house and into his flat. Another two weeks later, he'd proposed. Everyone had said it was far too early and that we should wait a bit more, but we knew we'd found a soul-mate in each other. A year after, we'd moved into the house. It was like a fairy tale and I refused to accept that it had ended. My mother was wrong, it doesn't matter at what age you become a widow, if you love someone so deeply I loved John, it's impossible to get over it. At least from where I was standing. That was what I'd replied to John in one of our many deep and meaningful conversations. No, I couldn't imagine being with another man. Not now, not in a year's time, not ever. John is—was—the love of my life and I'd keep it that way. Anything else was cheating. I didn't believe in God or him watching me, but I still felt his presence everywhere. Like in the bathroom, I'd left his clothes where he'd put them; the jumper over the chair, the gray shirt hung at the wardrobe, waiting to be ironed. If I'd stored them away, it would mean I'd have to sober up, cold-turkey, and face the fact that he'd not come back. That, I wasn't prepared for.
'Yeah, wallow in self-pity, Elaine,' a tiny voice inside me scoffed at me.
'Shut up, I have a right to be sad!' I sneered back. It was like an inner turmoil had began; reason appealing at my survival instinct and the defiant, fearsome kid in me hiding under the stairs. This was a new development and it frightened the hell out of me.
I squeezed my eyes shut as if to keep reason out, lowly whimpering to myself. If only John were here. Tears spilled onto the pillow, soaked my hair. And, naked and defenceless I welcomed sadness; the strange familiarity wrapping its protective arms around me as I drifted away.

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