During the heart of COVID lock down a new book project forced its way beyond a planned longish short story. With competition in the fiction market so difficult, my 2020 and 2021 work goals did not include a novel length work. But after months of keeping control within a tightly defined setting, one character began disintegrating. Old pain leaked into the new life she was learning and speckled soft-color sunny days with deep splotches of rusty and black stains. A short story about resiliency faced a wall of resistance.
My nice character abused all my plans and won the upper hand as the original plot imploded. Someone had to suffer, maybe even die, to let character, plot, and setting strings roll into a ball worth throwing from one hand to another. Loss, betrayal, discovery, and forgiveness don’t develop over autumn days differentiated by the nothing more significant that the choice of jam on tomorrow’s sandwich. There must be days when the cupboard is empty, or the bread is moldy, or someone has switched raspberry jam with despised jalapeno jelly that must be eaten. Because this is life.
My tormented character may be demanding to create her fictional life with a streak of realism in this interim pandemic world where historic fires, floods and power players’ disregard for regular people deny the magic of rainbows and predictable endings. Perhaps spending years in the world of 40 Thieves on Saipan, I’m more open to a character who chooses to walk the world carrying pain, fresh socks, blank notebooks, and a sandwich with any jam in a backpack instead of watching the world through others’ windows.