Why do relationships end? Are there fundamental disasters sown in the first rites of spring? Do we crack the foundation with expectations before laying the first brick? And does any of the endless analysis and questioning result in better future relationships?
Hell if I know.
What I do know is that I’ve had a long-term relationship with Sasha Solomon*, my main character in my published mystery series, and it has been severely tested in the last five years. The most recent test came with the first volley in my husband’s proposed property settlement. He wants “One half of the community interest in the literary Copyrights of Pari Noskin Tachiert” (Yes, the typo was there; it added a little insult to the whole endeavor.)
When I read those words, I thought, “Okay, then, I’ll just never do anything with Sasha again.”
After that initial infantile reaction, I started looking deeper. That’s one of the dangers of being introspective and not particularly interested laying blame at other people’s feet. Though I could sense the intent behind the request, the stab at my self-identity, the stink of malice, in the end did it really matter?
Is my 17-year relationship with this character so shallow I’m willing to end it over someone else’s actions? And who would I be hurting if I did? The deeper I went, the more questions I had.
How much of our relationship -- Sasha’s and mine -- sits on shaky ground? How much has been in reaction to
* The people who said I’d never get published?
* The limits of being with a university press and trying to “break into the big time?”
* My desire to be unique, interesting?
* My insecurities and worries about self-worth?
I also wondered about how easily I could get thrown off track. Do I still love Sasha or have I just been using her for years? Have I been holding on to her because I was scared to let her go?
Deeper and deeper I’ve gone. Why I haven’t written creatively in nearly 8 months? Is it really because I’m letting my wounded creativity heal quietly, to hibernate, until I can embrace it with the love of a true friend? Or is it because I’ve wanted to hoard it in, to hold it close, because I don’t want my husband try to possess any of it?
Wow. Is that weird or what? It feels so petty. And, frankly, a bit stupid. The only one getting hurt in this is me . . . and Sasha . . . and, maybe, readers who still want more of her stories.
Do other writers have these kinds of literary existential crises? I sure hope so.
So my main questions for today are these:
Readers & Writers: Have you ever been faced with this introspective questioning?
What did you discover?
Writers: Did you ever divorce a long-term character you created?
Or were you able to get literary marriage counseling?
* the website referenced above was created by B.G. Ritts as a kindness years ago . . .