It seems that after a few months of good (or at least productive) writing, I’ve hit another snag in my attempt to tell Adrian’s tale. It’s the same snag I’ve hit before, but now a few more have cropped up. They may actually be one and the same snag, masquerading as different things.
The big snag is fear. The masks this fear wears are: fear of [not] writing something I’ll be proud of — Can I show this to my family? Am I going to be embarrassed by this later? — and because of what’s wrong with Adrian, fear of backlash, and of royally messing up.
Because I, at this time, am still going to try and finish Hunger, I don’t want to give away what has happened to Adrian, since that reveal is important to his frame of mind and where he is as the story opens. Suffice to say, it’s something hideous, something that I have never experienced, but something I fear ever happening to me, or anyone else.
The fear of backlash comes from what my reading on TVTropes.org tells me, in that it’s very, very easy to wrongly portray it and/or its aftermath (and that it’s become very common as backstory), and I don’t want to insult real-life survivors, especially since it hasn’t happened to me.
The old snag is this: I can’t seem to commit to putting Adrian through any of what I have in mind. This problem has come up several times in the past ten years, which is a large part of why he still isn’t written after all this time. I don’t want to hurt him, and I don’t feel that’s because I’ve changed him so that he’s more like me. I view him more as an imaginary friend, and I don’t want to see friends, real or otherwise, suffer. This may be the clearest indicator that I’ve finally retired my “Dire Beatstick,” a unique role-playing weapon of my design, that I would use in many cases against my own characters in various games, sometimes in lieu of backstory. Other times, I did it because I was bored. I like to think that I am a fairly good gamer, but I’ve been outright cruel to several of my own creations. I’m trying to get past this, if anything because I do/did it a lot.
At the same time, Kurt Vonnegut, in his Eight Rules of Writing, said this:
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
I don’t want Adrian to suffer. At the same time, though, I intend the evil in Adrian’s history to be a way for me to explore my own fears more thoroughly, and perhaps stop worrying so much. Even as an adult, I fear the boogeyman, and the adult boogeyman is scarier in several ways than what a child might fear. This hopefully will allow me to put my fears down on paper so I can address them through Adrian, and thus get them out of my head.
But it isn’t the main point of the story, but it’s not merely a framing device or set-up — I’m trying to avoid it being just the set-up or a plot device. Hunger is about Adrian’s search for his purpose/calling in life, his desire to know what he (and we) are here on this Earth for, his need for connection to others and to God. The evil that happened is there because sometimes, for reasons not clear to either me or Adrian, bad things happen.
Is any of this making sense to you, Dear Reader? I’m trying to avoid several tropes here (though I realize Tropes Are Not Bad): Shocking Swerve, Diabolus Ex Machina, True Art is Angsty (especially that one; just saying that makes me cringe), and Downer Ending.
I want Adrian to have a happy ending, at least as happy as I can give him. And I want to write his story, because I think it should be written, good or bad. (It’s a writer thing.)