I just finished reading an excellent post at https://rmichaelbooks.wordpress.com/2019/05/16/writing-is-humbling-2/.
R. Michael makes some really good points on the post, and I responded in typical introspective fashion. My problem is most of what I write about happened in one form of the other. Some of the stories are reported straightaway, others have been doctored, fictionalized to a degree, and the ending changed to suit the novel.
Problem is, dragging these old cases our and examining them is humbling. We’re accustomed to seeing brilliant detectives solving cases with brilliant deductions. More often than not you bumble your way through a case. We call this “police work.” You follow the evidence and sometimes it leads to a dead end, and no amount of imagining or pushing is going to make it go forward.
Sometimes you look at a scene and wonder if you drew the correct conclusions from what you saw.
I’m thinking of a case where an older man looked to have been run over by his own pickup.
What happened is he opened a gate, got out to close it, the vehicle rolled backwards and over him and killed him. The simplest explanation is often times the correct one. But it still makes me wonder. It makes me wonder what I could have done differently. Did I miss some small clue?
I’ll probably never know.
These old cases serve as a mirror to me. In one, I put a ghost to rest with the realization if that young man hadn’t died, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. His death forced me to get my act together, and because of him, there’s a lot of people alive today who would be dead if I hadn’t been there.
When we write, we draw on ourselves as source material. It brings us face to face with our triumphs and our failures, our strengths and our fears. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we come out changed at the end of it.
Some of that is starting to spill over in Dead Friends. Will Diaz has gotten so close to the trees that he can no longer see the forest. His instincts are warning him he’s missing something, but he isn’t listening. Like his creator, Will is going to end up eating a lot of crow. He’s also going to receive forgiveness where none should have been offered, and find friends who would follow him to the grave and beyond.
And if he isn’t careful, he’ll come out a better person because of it.