It is a labor of tough theraputic love, an education in the impact of grief and guilt, as my step-father is prone to saying about most things fiction, “It’s a true story, but it never happened”, and it happens to be the first novel I have been writing for what, to most people, would be a laughable amount of time.
The hardest part, when you get past the procrastination, isn’t putting the words down on the page, as fictional as this story may be, I still lived through the essence in the heartache of mistakes, and the sense of loss that this book will portray, so I am in no danger of it deteriorating in my mind over time, sadness seems to linger a great deal more than happiness. No, the hardest part has been throwing myself back into that past which is better left behind, though I’ve begun over the last year to be able to approach it without the dark cloud hovering over me, making the writing process much easier. The settings, characters, and events within ‘Mad About You’ couldn’t be more fictitious, though as the title of this post states, every emotion is real, every ounce of remorse, grief, and guilt is something that I have felt in one manner or another.
Samuel, the protagonist of the novel, is a man who dies stubborn, and angry, both at himself and others, never having allowed himself to learn the lessons I forced myself to take to heart when I finally hit rock bottom, losing the last part of my life that at that point had been holding me together. Unlike him, when I was set face to face with the broken man I had become, I turned to philosophy to help make sense of it all, and while this book began in confusion and anger, it has matured with me, into what will end up being a man’s journey toward long needed revelations, and ultimately a path to redemption; whether or not he gains the latter will be up to him.
Samuel has come to reflect the worst in me, he is impatient, tactless, stubborn, faithless (of humanity as much as spirituality), and emotionally hardened. I am certain a great many readers will throw down the book in frustration at points in regard to his character, he isn’t as terrible of a human being as he believes himself to be, but he is human, and real folk for the most part have spacious walk-in closets full of issues.
Without intention, this story has become something to the effect of Dickens meets Dante, only because the experience of Samuel throughout his life is universal. I am hopeful that even though his life is surely nothing new, the commonality readers will find between their own experiences, and that of his, will make reading it accessible if not always enjoyable.
There aren’t many happy moments that take place for him within the pages of ‘Mad About You’, as he resides in a place tailored to rendering judgement of his own life, in this version of the afterlife no one does the work for you. That isn’t to say that his time in the afterlife is devoid of lightheartedness, his guide, Peter, is a jovial Scotsman prone to terrible puns, absolutely cringeworthy, though he means well. Peter was born out of a conversation with a coworker about the broad similarity in Samuel’s story of a journey through the afterlife to ‘The Divine Comedy’. At the time I had been at a standstill because Samuel was alone in a foreign place, unable to make sense of what was going on, but the second I was asked if my character had a guide like that of Virgil, immediately Peter was there in full form, as if he always had been. The story began unfolding with ease at that point, he showed himself to be the perfect counterbalance to Samuel’s tortured personality, and a source of guidance to this strange new existence.
That’s it for this post, I’ll be back with more soon. Until then, enjoy your week.