Writing in the face


Before I go on, let me say that I haven’t mastered the art of it. Writing in the face, that is.

I’m working on a series of crime novels based in my home city, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas. It’s a project that I take very seriously when I’m at it — when I’m writing as my screen personae of Scavella and Madison Hill — but that in my professional, “real” life, I keep very private indeed.

There are reasons for this privacy. I won’t go into them now. Just think of it this way: when you live in a country with a fledgling literary tradition, you consider very seriously the kind of oeuvre you want to add to the pot. Genre novels, even the best, list towards formula, work within parameters that are global in scope, and tend to be featureless — quite literally, they’re generic.

Today, though, art — or perhaps I ought to call it craft, because it’s more slog and smoothing than a whole lot else — met reality in ways that have unseated me, that have thrown me off-balance and interrupted the flow of words.

A colleague and friend was murdered today in the city of Nassau, and the themes that have appeared in the series over different books have become real.

The grief and misery that I feel right now are compounded by the fact that what has come from what I fondly believe to be my imagination is currently far too close for comfort. The location of his death, the manner of his death — these are elements that appear in different books in the series.And I haven’t yet mastered the art of writing in the face of the resulting confusion.


6 thoughts on “Writing in the face

  1. I am so sorry.

    I think crime novels, murder mysteries, are an attempt to bring emotional order to chaos in a sense. At least “traditional” ones are, where the bad guys get caught and the good guys are triumphant.

    But, well, novels can wait for you. And readers (like me!) can wait for you too.


  2. Julie, thank you. And I agree, which is why I’m going to work on finishing in spite of this. Murder mysteries are hymns to order in chaos. I’m feeling pretty in need for order right now, and of some kind of channelled feelng in the face of this numbness.

    Words can help. I’m trying!

  3. Someone once said that nothing terrible ever happens to writers – only wonderful anecdotes…which may at first glance seem an unforgivably callous remark. It isn’t.

    While we as believers may indeed sorrow, but NOT as those who have no hope, we as writers may indeed sorrow, but NOT as those who have no outlet.

    I remember when I was able for the first time to write about my mother’s death. I also had to write out Uncle Harry’s eulogy, something I really did not want to do. I found something out when I did.

    Everything is grist for the mill.

    Save up this grief, store it, plant it, let it lay dormant in that fermenting compost heap we call memory. And one day, all the passion, all the pain, all the fear, will flower.

    Write that.

    I am very sorry to hear that the prof was your friend – though I should, in truth, has realized it – and of course you know you will be in my prayers. *Hugs*

  4. Thanks, Z. He was a special man.

    There is that about writing, the process of discovery, of self-discovery. I know death, but I’d forgotten the questioning horror that goes with murder. It’s one thing to project it, to imagine it. It’s another to feel it.


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