Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Stepping forward…

I think it started in 1995. I'd just finished my third novel, Revelations, and was going to start the next one. On the screen, the cursor set at the top of the page and I typed, "A Hex Upon Rynia. The First Rynia Novel." The first. In the end, there were four. I remember thinking how arrogant I sounded, so sure that I'd even finish the first one.

Then, in 2001, I remember telling the once-cast of 40 Carats, sitting outside of Sherryl's place at the cast party, that I would go on to write my first play. Rosa asked me why I'd made it so public, considering I'd never written one before, and I remember saying, "Now, I have no way of backing out."

And so, a behavior pattern was established… whenever I'm not sure if I can do something, I tell the world I'm going to do it, which shames me into doing it.

Last week, I finished Vampire Society and immediately began looking around for my next project.

I'd started a book about a guy who goes to the Grand Canyon to kill himself. Then, I thought, a better story would be about a guy who's father wants him to drive him out to the - but, wait, I thought. These books aren't about "guys"… they're about you. And it became very clear to me that I was trying to write a book about me, about my own life.

I wish I could explain what goes through a writer's head. It's quite true, you should know, that a writer doesn't quite know what's going on. He doesn't know exactly what he's doing but he knows exactly what he should not do. This is clear.

Right now, I don't know what's going on as far as this compulsion to write about the Grand Canyon… but it's there. And I've tried to avoid it, but I can't.

I had Tim Clostio over this weekend and we hashed the whole thing out. I listed all the things I could do and then told him what I kept veering towards. There are a lot of things I could do but, like it or not, I think I know what's going to be done.

I don't know what I'm doing… but I'm certain that what I should not do is fight my body's natural inclination or lie to myself about it.

Why write a book about my trip to the Grand Canyon? I'm not a non-fiction writer! But, then again, I am. I have been for years. And I have hundreds of thousands of words about that journey alone, in emails and My Sides. What is that journey? Is it the story of a failed marriage, of me losing my wife? No. Because the first question I think, when I put that question into the context of a story is, "What happens next?" This is what happened next. This is the story about a man who thought he'd lost everything and pretty much did, and who tried to hold everything together until he found himself in a car, heading out the to Grand Canyon so he could jump over the side. And that is only the first half. The second half is about a man who's trying to recover from his mental breakdown and win back the woman he lost, until he realizes that he really has lost her and has to find his way alone. The story ends with Vicky - not my life, just that story.

So, why write it? Because only I can. I survived the depths of depression and living with my back to sanity and I can tell the story. I can tell people that it is possible to survive, that you don't have to jump - you don't even have to get near the edge. How? I don't know how. I don't know how I survived. But I did. And before I marry Vicky, I think it's time to tell the story. Why NOT write it.

So, there you go. I'm announcing my first autobiographical book…. Now, I have no way of backing out.

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