I'm not one of those writers who love their own work. I like most of the words I spit out but I've never loved any of them. I thought I was broken for a while. I'd see all these tweets about the anguish my peers were going through by killing off their darlings or writing that really emotional break-up scene that devastates both parties. I felt bummed when I killed off someone or made my characters life a living hell, but I really didn't care as much as everyone else seemed too.
And then I wrote about my father-in-law, Jim.
Jim passed away nearly two years ago. Having someone you choose to love - someone you're not pre-programmed to love like your "real family"- die is an odd thing. That part in your heart you carved out especially for them just explodes. Everything crumbles around you. It was the worst day of my entire life.My husband and our family worked through it as best we could. I tried to be the rock Matt needed me to be, and kind of put my own grief aside.
I've thought about Jim a lot these past couple years. How stubborn and hilarious he is, how hard he loved, how big he laughed...you know...all the good things. I was thinking about him when I had the idea for the Bone Tree, my MG horror. I never thought about writing a character based off anyone I knew in real life. Especially not a family member. Extra-especially not about one who passed away. Needless to say, I never thought I'd write my father-in-law as a twelve-year-old boy named Roman.
But I did.
It's been the most therapeutic, awesome experience ever. I got to spend time just remembering him as my character research. Best of all, I get to show the world how kick ass my other Dad is.
So now, for the first time ever, I've loved something I've written. And that feels pretty freaking good.