Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Playing God"

There’s a hidden satisfaction that comes with being an author of fiction. We are creators of people, creators of worlds, and creators (or destroyers) of every action in it. It is an addiction that makes us forget the pot cooking on the stove, miss the next train, forget to pay a bill, or even “lose” a day or two when we ourselves are lost deep in our writing zones, barely making time to “come up for air” (Did you say it was Tuesday? Already? Wow…)

Fiction writers, with the stroke of a pen, can make their characters sick or well, hungry, sad or silly, or make them experience a gambit of emotions in the space of two paragraphs. We name them and give them brown eyes and long hair, or green eyes and short hair. We give them triumphs and tragedies. We also have the power to kill our characters, or (as in the case of Like Sweet Buttermilk), bring them back to life …

In the original version of Like Sweet Buttermilk (LSB), Rick Phillips died. Readers were upset; they liked the ending—but they didn’t. Given the flow/chain of events, his death made sense. And then, it didn’t. Although his death occurred in the original published version—it wasn’t my original idea for the ending. Sometimes writers go against their original instincts or plans for a work in the interest of spicing things up or to challenge the status quo or simply challenge themselves. Nothing wrong with that at all; it’s an experiment in creativity every artist is entitled to. But the original ending of LSB, while fitting, stuck in my craw. For some time. In fact, for too long.

With the relaunch of LSB, I changed the ending to match my original idea for it. And, like fine wine, Like Sweet Buttermilk has gotten better with time. I’ve set things right in my fictional world and I’m not looking back. I had plenty notes on or about Mr. and Mrs. Phillips; so much more I wanted to “say” when it came to them, and now I get to. It’s a good thing. In the works following LSB, Dr. Alexander has two new friends—and exploring the dynamics of those relationships will be my pleasure.