Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Writer's Emotional Investment.

I've somehow worked myself up into an emotional state this afternoon. 

In my continuing development of my latest work in progress, I've been working on the back story of my central character, Hayden Luschcombe, that involves a falling out with his father Russell that remains unresolved at the beginning of the story. 

See, Hayden's mother Lavinia died around four years before the events in the story, having suffered from ovarian cancer. His father Russell, who devoted himself to being her sole carer, died about a year later - ostensibly from a broken heart. During his mother's illness, Hayden made many trips over to Walhalla from Adelaide but often had difficulties in getting away from his demanding job in a hospital's emergency department to be with his parents and help with his mother's care.

When Lavinia's illness took a turn for the worse and Russell warned Hayden that there was much time left, Hayden tried to get a flight over but, due to circumstances at work and, possibly, some intransigence from his unsympathetic wife, he didn't make it in time. Lavinia died before Hayden got to her bedside.

Russell, in his grief, turned on Hayden and, I guess, blamed him for not being there at the last moments of his mother's life. This developed into a rift between father and son that went unresolved. When Russell died a year later, father and son never reconciled and so Hayden is left to live with guilt and regret. This is part of the reason why Hayden appears as something of an introvert at the beginning of the story and doesn't find it easy to mix with others.

Family dynamics can be really complex when cancer visits a loved one and relationships are often strained. Sometimes they can break. I was reminded of this, this afternoon as I sat trying to flesh out this aspect of the story and I couldn't help but feeling an overwhelming sadness as I considered how I am going to incorporate this back story into the main story. Part of Hayden's journey will involve him 'reconciling' with his father in a posthumous sense and I have an idea about how that will play out but getting to that point requires a bit of work. And it's not easy. 

When considering weighty issues such as these, it's inevitable that I become emotionally invested in these characters and these situations. It's a little surprising just how invested one can become. I'm not gonna lie, it's more affecting than I anticipated.

Do you find the same thing happens to you? Do you find yourself being affected by the situations you place you characters in? Tell me in the comments section below.



  1. (James Norton! Yay! I'm even more excited about this story now.)

    I definitely get myself all emotionally riled up via my imaginary situations. My latest WIP involves a lot of family conflict and differing values, and I both love it and dread having to write the really difficult scenes. Probably it's good for us, though--working through such issues, even if it's partly fictional. (I say "partly" because of course it's always partly about us, too, in some fashion.)

    1. Haha! Thought you'd like that Molly. For a while, I worked with an image of actor Hayden Christensen as my model for Hayden Luschcombe but, having become a huge fan of the series "Grantchester" and James Norton, he makes for a much better fit. This image occupies a space on my pin board now - along with Terrence Stamp as Russell and Caroline Brazier as Lavinia.

      I'm definitely mining real world, personal experiences for some the situations contained in the story and, while it's been confronting at times to relive some of them, it's also been cathartic. To see things with the benefit of time gives me some objectivity and emotional distance - though that's not always the case.