Life and Death in Writing

I cried in my bed last night. I read the last few chapters of ‘The Time Travellers Wife,’ once again. It made me think of life, death and all the hues inbetween.

My review of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ in another blog post was made prematurely. I believe I gave it a good review when I should have given it an excellent review. I was disheartened by a few things, but then again, just like life, books can have their rough and bitter edges, and will give us occasional words or sentences we might prefer to skip over inattentively. To be honest, I cried over the sad letter Henry wrote to his wife (such letters ought to come with a box of kleenex).

I was blown away. Niffenegger took an ordinary couple and made them extra-ordinary. Not just for their dedication in trying to live a normal life within Henry’s transcendental and universally mind-blowing illness, but as a reflection of humanity, their endurance teaches us that we can and do survive the many cruel blows along the way.

And all for what?

Well for love of course.

Time travelling became the norm for these characters, and the consequences of that were sadly accepted long before any bitter-endings arrived. This is the cream of characterisation. Whilst most authors settle on less impossible scientifically brain-puddling themes, the message is the same everywhere, we endure all, because we must.

When I created Maggie in ‘The Last Gift,’ I wanted her to overcome a life of slavery and upper class brutality, even though thousands didn’t survive it. But if she hadn’t my book would have closed its doors by Chapter Two. Maggie had nothing to live for, really. Possibly all she had was the (less than perfect) air which she breathed and the protective love of her kind parents, who too frequently had troubles of their own to contend with. The fact that my heroine smelt the scent of death every day only served to make her a stronger and more resilient human being.

In the story, Maggie lives on to witness and experience better things, whilst many of her loved ones perished. No matter what century we live in, we can relate to that. To love and death. Its equal intransigence and totality. It is the sum of all things of which we care and write about.

I relate to death in fiction because I feel I am always sitting within it’s ever present sneer of inevitability. I know it will grab me one day no matter how many crunches I do on a weekly basis. La vida es asi! Through books we should be able to visualise the brutality of life and its beauty; the same with death. As a writer I will always strive to comprehend the two, and then my aim is to be able to make my reader feel what it is that I have learned.

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