I have been working on my novel The Baby Werewolf, and I am now in the final phase, working on the climax and crisis point. And I surprised myself. The killer monologues to the main characters who have now become his intended next victims. I have played this out over and over in the twenty-two years I have been writing this book. Last night, for the first time ever, the hero character laughs in this scene instead of the cringing fear that had always been there before.
How is such a thing possible? What changed? I have been writing and rewriting this story since 1996. But it goes much deeper and darker than that. This story went on my have-to-write list in 1966 when an older, stronger boy who lived near my home trapped me in a place out-of-sight of others and stripped me, gaining some horrible kind of pleasure by inflicting pain on my private parts. Recovery from that has taken half a century. The recovery itself probably explains why I struggled so long to pull this story together in a finished form.
There are things about my writing life that are undeniable. First of all, I have to write. There is really no other choice for me. My mind will never know rest or peace without being able to spin out the paragraphs and essays and stories that make it possible to know those things. Nothing is real if I can’t write it out. Secondly, I am a humorist. If I can never be funny at all, can never write a joke, then I will descend into madness. My sense of humor not only shields me and serves as my suit of armor, it heals me when I suffer psychic wounds. This book is a horror story, but like many of the best horror stories, it relies on humor to drive every scene and knit the plot together. And it was a breakthrough for me to have the hero character laugh instead of cringe in the critical scene. It allows me to live again. And love again. And the real monster that caused this book to be, is now forgiven. The world continues to turn. The picture is now complete. And soon, the novel will be too.