The Test of Bravery

I had yet another raving review of Return to Masonry yesterday. Having just survived a couple of very disheartening weeks, my ego was quite happy with the boost.
Masonry was… an excruciating masterpiece for me.
And I don’t mean, “Oh, I strived and conquered and gave you all something wonderful! Yay me!”
I mean; Masonry was a story that I struggled through, that tested my bravery and my strength, and it gave me so much.
When I started Masonry about seven years ago, it was this amazing concept that sounded so completely stellar… That it fell into a folder and was forgotten for a very long time.
I picked it up again in 2014, and it was a story I was extremely passionate about, I wanted to tell the story of a person who was faced with severe antagonism, someone’s who’s always felt weak and stupid, and I wanted to show that they could overcome it. I wanted to display that struggle for self worth. And so I birthed Alanor, and put her in a horrible situation, and waited for her to realize what she was made of.
During the process of writing this story, I went through a very painful loss: My aunt died. It was one of those sudden, slap in the face, “”We knew she wasn’t doing well, but I just talked to her yesterday and she was alive!” sort of situations, and the grief from that made it very hard to do my job,
It was some months before I was able to sit down and create something. And I found that when I did, my characters ended up working through a lot of the issues of grief and acceptance that I was struggling with.
Between Slate and Alanor, I found this awkward, knee-jerking, stubborn balance of people who were hurting, and refusing to let the world hurt them anymore. They didn’t react “well;” they berated and lashed out. They got impatient and often hurtful toward each other. And it was all the things I was feeling, all the hurt and anger and pain displayed through these two stuning people that were figments of my imagination. And they showed me how to cope, and how not to.
I think the hardest scene for me to write in this whole book was the memorial in the Timberhalls. I started typing away, and was making great progress when I realized: I wasn’t connecting with my characters. More, I was actively refusing to connect with my characters, as they sat through a remembrance of loss and love.
I was so ashamed, and frustrated and… scared. Just plain scared. Oh, how much hurt I would have to embrace to truly show this memorial. Fresh hurt that still left me gasping for air, it hurt so much. God, don’t make me face it, don’t make me…
I ended up rewriting that scene completely. I went back to Alanor walking in with Orin, Desiderata and Slate, and I stopped telling facts and started feeling what they were all feeling.
I honestly cried writing that scene. A lot. And it did hurt. But it was the pain of letting a wound wash itself clean.
Return to Masonry was an excruciating masterpiece. And I’m proud of every small fragment of my heart that it gave me back.

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