As I've mentioned before, Delwyn of the Realms was born from two previous, unpublished novels: a memoir I was planning (called "Your face in my hands" from my blog on Wordpress - http://yourfaceinmyhands.com/) and a Young adult novel similiar to Delwyn of the Realms. The big decision to - at least temporarily - abandon the memoir, was due to how uncomfortable I felt with producing a book about the details of my childhood - specifically in regards to raking my mother over the coals.
Now it seems odd that I felt that way, seeing as I had already talked about my experiences in my Wordpress blog. I received some great support and feedback from my followers and other Wordpress bloggers - however the idea of blasting it out in a full length book made me shy away from that project. As I was already writing the Young adult version of Delwyn of the Realms, the idea came to me that I could 'cushion' the blow, by using some of my experiences (including those with my mother) - in an Adult version.
Then I could change the details of Delwyn's mother, without documenting the full story - therefore saving her from any ill-feelings. But as I said - it now seems a moot point as I had already discussed it via my blog. It's strange how - as an author - you can do the smoke and mirrors routine by believing that a blog is not the same as publishing a real book! Fair enough - a blog is (seemingly) only visible to those you choose to share it with, but on the other hand, it doesn't take much for anyone to find you with a Google search!
One of the comments I'd received on the blog was from a wise woman who stated that what happened to me - belonged to me - no matter how much it might hurt others involved. I'm paraphrasing, but she said that this was my story - therefore mine to tell. I was reminded of a line from Helen Garner's novel "Monkey Grip" - where the character Nora says, "Events don't belong to people", albeit - after being confronted by her nemesis, who is enraged when her personal details are revealed in a short story. (Another line from the novel - "People's lives are just gossip fodder" - but it doesn't serve my purpose!)
The idea of events not belonging to people has always stuck with me, as I knew that I wanted to write about my experiences growing up - but was afraid of the consequences. This is a big dilemma for authors, as they can appear shallow - or worse - users! I wonder how many arguments and broken ties have arisen from authors revealing events or characters in their work! All artists are inspired or motivated by their own experiences and encounters with others.
Then I mulled over the idea that authors shouldn't censor themselves - but does that mean we can ride roughshod over the people in our lives - past or present? It's a painful see-saw that continues to be a conundrum for me, especially as I am also a mother - notwithstanding the fact that I was nowhere near as bad. I was not an alcoholic and did not put my son through the horrible things that happened to me. But that doesn't mean that I was a saint.
I had my foibles - and I'm sure he would like to rake me over the coals when he thinks back over the periods of deep depression etc. We have a great relationship and one of the reasons is that I was always aware of how my actions affected him - based on my experiences with my mother. We have always been able to discuss any issues and never had any screaming fights or raged in silence for too long!
But then I put myself in my mother's place - wondering how I would feel if my son felt the same way about me? Shouldn't my mother also have the opportunity for forgiveness? Again - the see-saw! The issue with forgiveness is - the perpetrator needs to admit that they did anything wrong in the first place, then apologize - and mean it! The next step is to make amends by taking steps to correct the wrongs and changing their wretched behavior.
This is something my mother refuses to do, as she always comes up with excuses as to why she drank and put us through the wringer. I have attempted to temper my anger by trying to understand all the things she went through as a child, such as: being born Aboriginal in a predominantly white country, losing her parents when she was very young and being placed in a home, etc. But one thing I've learned about evolving as a human being, is just that: evolving!
Most of us humans had some level of hardship or pain when growing up - but the trick is to analyze, understand, accept and move on. The irony doesn't escape me. I too need to follow those steps, which I am doing through my writing. Somehow it feels as though I'm censoring myself if I don't express the pain I endured as a child and teenager - but not all the blame can be placed squarely on her shoulders. Others are just as much to blame for turning a blind eye and allowing the crap to continue.
For me - in regards to my writing - I found that the trick was to be tactful and at least, to keep a balance, by taking a bird's eye view and contemplating everyone's side of the story. This brings me full circle though - this is my story; my experience and my take on what happened.
So - with all that said - I decided to modify the character - Delwyn's mother. In the story, Delwyn's mother is cruel and abusive - to a horrifying degree. She loathes her daughter and is the same towards Delwyn whether drunk or sober. She traumatized her throughout her childhood and beyond.
Without going into more detail here (you can check out my blog on Wordpress if you want to know more about me and my experiences) - when sober - my mother is a wonderful person. She is compassionate and very giving; fun and intelligent and so on. But that's what makes the dark side of her so intolerable. Like a Jekyll and Hyde character - she can be nasty, vindictive, cold, calculating and childish - but on the flipside she can be sweet and kind. The dark side still rules and the bright side is too far and few between.
One of the things that fueled my design for Delwyn's mother, was the understanding that many people have endured abuse at the hands of a sadistic mother. Much has been written about abusive men - to the point of men as a sex being demonized. We don't often contemplate the idea that some men are good - in a world where war-mongers, abusers, rapists, murderers and molesters are predominantly male. We also rarely contemplate that some of those evil people are women. I assume that it's due to the fact that women are supposed to be kind and mild - and men are supposed to be powerful and ruthless.
For a long time I've understood that the battle of the sexes is a futile endeavor - a war waged by those who profit from it. Whether they be corporations, politicians, the media - or even us little folk who rely on stereotypes to feed our insecurities. I've always regarded men and women as the same - just people - period! Some men are kind - some women are evil. People are evil - and kind. A woman can be strong and powerful. A man can be weak and helpless.
That's why we are more horrified when a woman does harm - especially to her own children. This misunderstanding allows us to try to be more understanding when a woman inflicts pain - and less understanding when done by a man. Some say that it's more terrifying when a woman is evil - but does that mean that it's natural for a man to be evil? It always depends on the point of view of the person analyzing the situation - but I've found that people are more likely to make excuses for the woman. It's less of a shock when a man does the damage.
I have always been shocked when either a man or a woman shows an 'evil' nature. Even though it seemed unfathomable when faced with women abusing others - based on my conditioning and the fact that I am female - I was just as perplexed when a man was the culprit. I've known some beautiful men and ugly women - so as far as I'm concerned - sex has nothing to do with it.
It would be easy to argue that sex has everything to do with it - seeing as women are subjugated by men. But we need to understand that the subjugation is a two-way street. Women also join in on their own subjugation. Knowing that you are being subjugated - and then stepping out of it to maintain your sense of humanity - is the key to stop feeding the machine.
I know that I have digressed from my initial intention for this post - but I feel that the discussion needs to be elevated to a level of deep understanding. We are all to blame - and we are all responsible for the solution!
Blogging the Portals
Thoughts on the writing process and my journey to publishing! This is also where I share my inspirations and anything else related to my writing. Please feel free to comment and share - but remember to behave! I reserve the right to banish disrespectful remarks to the nether regions!