Behind the Scenes of a Novel-Day 14
Staying Focused in Adversity
I cannot begin to tell you how this day has unfolded. It was supposed to be a simple Friday. I was going into the school I used to teach in to get some boxes and have lunch with my former colleagues. I accomplished most of that. While in the grocery store getting things for a salad for a potluck on Sat. I got a phone call from my daughter. Nothing too strange there, except for her request.
What I had missed in being away from my computer for the day was an incident of bullying at the local high school. It seems members of the sophomore class in their infinite wisdom voted for the young lady who would represent their class at homecoming in two weeks. The young lady who won was thrilled, however it quickly turned to devastation when she learned votes for her had been a joke. Then the young man who was voted to represent the class said he was not going to do it. His reasons had nothing at all to do with the young lady. He was not going to be a party to her humiliation. Basically they were trying to humiliate him, too.
The marvelous thing which came out of all this was the community became aware of it. As communities do, they have rallied behind the young lady and against bullying. They have arranged for the young lady to have her hair and nails done, dinner for her and her date on Saturday night, transportation, and she has enough formal dresses to carry her through the next two years of high school. The community will be in the stands to support her when she walks across the field at homecoming. Several young men from other schools have offered to act as her escort. People will have signs to wave and I expect to see a standing ovation for her. The bullies will not win this time and a young girl will have the homecoming of a lifetime.
On the heels of all this, I learned a dear friend has breast cancer and it has spread. She will need a lymphectomy to determine how far it has spread and what course of action needs to be taken. While the news was shocking to me there was more sad news to follow.
A former co-worker lost her young granddaughter. The child had medical problems from birth and fought through them all. The wonderful doctors at the University of Michigan Hospital could do nothing more for her. With heavy hearts her parents asked she be disconnected from the machines and were at her side until she was gone. In her five or six brief years this little angel has united a community in her battle to live.
So, you may ask what all this has to do with writing? I can think of several things. While it was distracting I managed to get the next couple of scenes written in the book and am closing in on 10,000 words. Writing helped me focus on something other than the ugly and disheartening in this world.
It also gives me fodder for stories or articles in the future. I can picture a story around cancer or some other devastating disease. The struggles of facing the disease and the treatments. The loss of hair, appetite, and energy. I can write about parents devastated by a child with a rare or debilitating disease. Do I want to? Not at this time, but I can put it on a back burner in my brain for another day.
I have written about bullying in Crossing the Line, which will be out in November. It was a hard book to write, because I was writing about kids hurting kids. I had to walk away from it often. The characters while not based on any one person I know or knew were a compilation of students I've taught over the years. It was a difficult book to write at times. I wanted the kids to be real. I wanted the things they did to be things which happen on a daily basis across this nation.
All-in-all I managed to keep focused. I didn't write as much as I'd hoped, but I did write. Do I take my ideas from TV shows, no. I use real life. Things which could and do happen. Stay focused.