Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lee Child, Weddings, and Dirty Diapers.

John here. This is about Jack Reacher, my mother getting remarried, and a 39-year-old getting reacquainted with the art of changing diapers. Sort of. It’s about where writers find inspiration.

Every writer is different, but for me finding a story equates to finding a character. As I’ve said before, the character leads me to the plot. And I enjoy reading stories in which the protagonist faces internal conflicts greater than the external ones. I’m halfway through THE ENEMY by Lee Child and am enjoying it, not because of the military detail or pace, but because protagonist Reacher learned 50 pages ago that his mother will soon die. Now he and I are waiting for the phone call bringing bad news as he goes on with his investigation. A clever plot maneuver—and not unlike one used by John Steinbeck in his novella OF MICE AND MEN when the dog is shot five pages after its euthanasia has been agreed upon—but it is my favorite part of the novel. How will Reacher handle the death of his mother? How do we react to things beyond our control—a plot that can be traced back to HAMLET and the Greek tragedies. But still one that always offers great internal conflict, one that still puts me on the edge of my seat.

On May 23, my mother married a wonderful man three years after the passing of my father. It will be a great thing for her. And it has me thinking about happiness, aging, and about life and (unfortunately) death. Likewise, in November, my wife Lisa and I welcomed our third daughter, Keeley, into the clan. Delaney is 11 and Audrey is 8, so I’m learning about sleep deprivation (although admittedly not to the degree of my poor wife) and about changing diapers all over again. But I also realize Keeley will never meet my late father, the man who was the family’s rock for so many years. And my mother’s new beginning oddly coincides with Keeley’s birth. These are details of my life that make up my preoccupations, ones I see popping up in my writing.

Writing fiction is my way of exploring characters, their conflicts, and a way to clarify my own thinking—all while, hopefully, telling a good story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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