Wednesdays in the Blog Me MAYbe Blogfest are themed “May I ask something about you?” I’d like to ask if you’ve ever gotten emotional as you’ve been writing something, or when you’ve read back on something you’ve written.
It doesn’t happen to me often, but I’ve gotten choked up a couple of times. The speech Ivan makes to Lyuba, in my first Russian novel, on the day of their wedding, always chokes me up. It made me all misty-eyed when I first wrote it at 21, and a decade later, when I converted all the files and reformatted them, it made me cry all over again. Each time during all my many edits and rewrites I got to that part, what Ivan believes is his farewell speech to his soulmate, it made me cry like clockwork.
By the time I wrote that in 2001, I’d been with Ivan for somewhat over 8 years, and really knew his character well. That speech is just the type of romantic monologue he’d make, telling Lyuba the wind will be crying her name and that he’ll think of her when he’s being exploited at the iron factory, when he glimpses her and Tatyana in the street, as he watches Fedya grow up, when he becomes a grandfather. He loves her so much he’s willing to let her go, even to his former best friend.
Writing the sequel a decade later, I cried during Chapter 43, “Facing the Music in Minnesota.” Ivan is reading the forced apology letter Boris has sent from jail, and then reads Lyuba’s long, heartfelt, heartbroken letter, explaining how she was tricked into adultery when she wasn’t in command of all her senses, and held hostage to these delusions because Boris was pushing morphine, alcohol, and mescaline on her. Now it’s her turn to tell Ivan that she loves him so much she’s willing to let him go if he still refuses to believe the truth and wants a divorce.
I got choked up again while writing the death scene of Butler Reagan in Saga VI of Cinnimin. It’s early September 1997, nearing the end of the Hitchcocks’ healing, idyllic summer vacation in France, and Violet’s 108-year-old loyal servant finally dies of his own willpower. Butler Reagan has been depressed and frustrated for years on account of his age. To him, living over 100 is a curse, not a blessing. But that summer he finally got happy again, and is able to leave this world with those beautiful final memories of Violet, her sisters, their mother Madeline, and Violet’s youngest children Portia and Juliet.
I was thinking of the ending of the Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., version of The Man in the Iron Mask, which is not only a beautiful, poignant, bittersweet film ending, but also a beautiful, bittersweet send-off to the silent era. (It was made in 1929 and has some sound sequences, but was one of the last silent films made.) I could picture these old friends beckoning to Butler Reagan over the horizon as he looks back on his life one final time and has one last moment of panic, of knowing he’s about to do the undoable. I created Butler Reagan in the Spring of ’93, while finishing up the first Max’s House book, and I’ve loved him ever since. Saying goodbye to him was like the end of an era.
And I got misty-eyed while writing the death scene of my secondary character Eleanor Black, Aphrodite’s mother and Cinni’s stepsister-in-law (and one of the older sisters of Violet’s nasty ex Dave). She dies of cancer in her early seventies. I had to kill her off to lay the groundwork for an important storyline with Aphrodite, but it didn’t feel good to bury an important secondary character I’d really grown to care about over the years.