In this last phase of my life, I, a career-long technical writer, became a script and screenplay writer. I discovered I loved writing dialogue—rather, I discovered pride through the compliments of Praxis and Convergent personnel who read my screenplay.
I am working on a project more fictional than anything I have ever written but, of course, I draw from my life to reveal the character of my protagonists and antagonist.
Yesterday, I went for a walk to ponder an interesting question. If you know me, you know my history with a bully father who was manipulated by my mentally ill mother. I am not interested in my story. What I tried to imagine while walking yesterday, was what my mother was thinking whilst she heard Dad whacking me and me crying.
The question I asked myself that gave me chills was: I wonder if it made her happy?
Think of it. He’d always be hollering at me about why he was beating me and I was always crying and screaming that I didn’t do what he was accusing me of. But it made no difference. And she heard it all.
Yes, of course, I hated her for her lies. I loathed her, but she was paralyzed and it’s really hard to be angry with someone who is a paraplegic. It was easy to blame her condition and not her. Later I blamed her mental health when I learned about the diagnosis my father kept secret.
But what was she feeling? I really wish I knew. She’s such a rich, fabulous character to consider—this woman who adopted the child she turned on. Did she know what she was doing? Did it please her? Or did she feel guilty?
I’m divorced from the emotional turmoil of it all. I’ve learned to live with it in the same way I have always imagined a person whose family member is a murderer has to deal with their reality. Now it is a rich experience to draw from for a character in my current project.
At the end of my pondering yesterday, for the first time in my life I considered myself “lucky” to have my history. I think I would be less of a person and far less of a writer had it not happened—I’d certainly be somebody else and I like who I am.