Today is my three year anniversary with my beloved ex-novel, SOLACE. At the time I started writing SOLACE, however, it wasn't called SOLACE, nor did it have any direction, purpose, characters, or a plot line whatsoever. I just decided one day - January 14th, 2008, to be exact - that I wanted to write. I had been reading Twilight (the first book I chose to read in a long time, at that point) and I knew that I wanted to give writing a go. So I sat down and tried to think of something to write. When that failed, I wrote a note to myself, basically, and saved it - never expecting to come back to it again. But I did. But I still faced the problem of "Oh, crap, I'm determined to write something now, but what?"
Well, that was right around the time that Jim was coming home for mid-tour leave from his second deployment to Iraq and I was really excited that he was coming home. It seemed like he was always deployed and if he was coming home, even if for only two weeks, I was extremely happy. But I desperately wanted to be there when Jimmy got off the plane - but I knew that he never allowed anyone to be there except for his wife. I asked my grandma why that was and she said - and I will never forget this as long as I live - "I think he doesn't want to risk letting anyone see him cry." And that's what started it, to be honest. It gave me the premise of my story. I wanted my character to be strong like Jimmy, because I wanted to be strong like Jimmy - and I worked for a long time to try to be. Obviously I have failed in that matter. I wanted my character to have an amazing cousin in the Army who was deployed to Iraq because I had one too. I wanted my character, in a lot of ways, to be me - or who I wanted myself to be. And thus Hallie Pearson (wasn't her name at the time) was born.
In draft one, the story started out with a dream that Hallie was having. She had dreams about her cousin (Jackson) a lot, but in this dream, she saw him cry. Now, although a lot of her dreams that included Jackson were not about him crying, (it might've been only that one) throughout draft two, I kept that idea and it actually is a pretty big piece of the story now.
A lot of people have asked me why I can't go back to writing SOLACE at the moment, it's fictional, what happened to Jimmy has nothing to do with what I wrote about Jackson, and that's true enough. But the fact of the matter is that this novel's first original detail was inspired by Jimmy and that makes it extremely hard for me to go back to it at the present time. I know that Jim would want me to finish it, and then he'd want to beat me up for the Jackson character, and I will - in time. But right now, I need to get away from that. Because I know how Jackson's story comes to a close in draft one - and how it was going to in general. And although it might not have been a bad ending, it's still one that's hard for me to deal with because I know for certain Jim's ending. And the contrast and similarities of the two are painful.
Now, I'm not posting this to tell you a sappy story, because I know you don't want to hear it. The reason I'm posting this is because this is how I started writing. I'm not saying that Jim was the only person that inspired me while writing SOLACE, because he wasn't. But he did, however, inspire me, without even knowing, to start writing. And that's something I'll never forget. And so now, as it usually was, it's all for you, Jim.
Thank you - for everything.