“When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages – a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.” – Haruki Murakami
It took me awhile, but I did it. I had been thinking of this story for the better part 14 years. Maybe it was 13 years but, nonetheless, I did it. I finished it. In fairness to myself I didn’t start writing the story until last year. Putting the proverbial pen to paper (I know I type mostly on a laptop, sometimes a desktop. I actually finished on the desktop. Digression) I brought a story that I had wanted to work on for years to life. I breathed life into it by having the namesake stop breathing just a few pages in. Mourning Skye.
I was excited to write this story because it is one of my typical stories – twenty-something fuck-ups that fall in love and have to make a hard choice. These stories were part of the independent film resurgence of the 90s and I grew up on them. I ate them up. These characters were relatable. These characters were flawed. These characters were dicks. These characters were nice. These characters were funny. These characters were sad. These characters were – me.
When I went to Purdue in 1999 and declared my major as Creative Writing and Film Studies, I was writing these stories already. At least a version of these stories. There’s usually an element of Man vs Self in my stories. And when you broke down those 90s movies, no matter how many characters were involved, when it came down to it, each character was struggling with themselves. Whatever the catalyst was in the story, it was inconsequential. This appealed to me so much, because it just felt more authentic and it gave me a better connection with the character, whether it was on the screen or in the page.
So, when finger went to key last year, I had that intention. To bring you guys a typical story of mine. Twenty-something fuck-ups that fall in love. And, I did just that. See, Skye was a catalyst. See above. Was she inconsequential? I don’t know. That’s always for you to decide. But she used to date Burke. This insanely gorgeous man, with these insanely gorgeous dimples and this insanely gorgeous, dirty blonde hair. It was when they were ending college. It was not for long, but long enough, you know?
Skye had a half-sister named Angeline. Angeline looked a lot like Skye. Except for Skye had blonde hair and was sickly thin. Angeline had blue-tinged raven hair and was super thin. Other than that, you could tell that they were sisters. Angeline was away at school when Burke and Skye dated. They never crossed paths during this time and, unfortunately, life became too much for our precious Skye, and she decided that it was time for her internal suffering to be over.
After her funeral, a very intoxicated Angeline met a very intoxicated Burke. The attraction was mutual. The attraction was physical. The attraction was chemical. The attraction was natural. They met each other in the spiritual sense later that night and grew closer together. They met because of a common bond, and the common bond kept them close.
This is how the book begins. This is the beginning of the story. There are about 65,000 more words to tell and I want to wait and let that unfold in front of your eyes and let you experience them as they happen. Because, when you leave a story alone for 13 years, maybe 14 years, it changes slightly on you. It didn’t change completely on me. Everything that was going to happen, happened. The book was always going to begin the way it did. It was always going to end the way it did. It was always going to have a similar middle. It’s just that the middle does change on a writer when he or she takes time away.
And that is an amazing thing. This story was originally supposed to be a bond over a sister that was lost during the 9/11 attacks. I don’t know when I changed it to a suicide, but I did. The attacks were just so fresh when I conceived this story, but as time went on, I aborted that and changed it to a suicide. It seemed more fitting and maybe more tragic. I’m not saying by any stretch of the imagination that the attacks weren’t tragic, but the idea that a talented and sometimes happy woman would just kill herself seemed more tragic to me. Maybe it was more unfathomable to me and therefore more tragic.
Anyway, I did it. And I want to share something with you that happens with writers that spend weeks and maybe months with these characters. They start to fall in love with them. Not in a physical way, that would be weird, silly. In an emotional way. We spend hours a day with them for weeks on end. You get the pleasure of spending a couple of hours a day for a few days or a week or a couple of weeks and then it is over. And, if we did our job, you will feel feelings and be happy or sad or mad or all of those combined or what have you. But, we writers, after spending so much time with these people, there is something that happens. It’s beyond catharsis. I mean, it is catharsis, but shit. As soon as you type the end something happens to your body. Inside, everywhere, it feels as though you have been ugly crying for a couple of days and pure exhaustion sets in. You become physically exhausted. The night I finished the first draft my wife and I went over to our friends house and I literally fell asleep at the table with my head propped up as we were talking over beers.
But, you know what? It was all worth it. And I can’t wait to write the third for the same feeling. It’s addictive. Just so I can know what you thought of the silly words I put together for you mean to you. I promise quadruple the dick and fart jokes in this one for you. As always I appreciate everyone’s nice words. You guys are the best.
Please to enjoy.