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dilemma

November 21, 2010

It’s raining outside and I am in bed with a battery of flu-like symptoms, surrounded by tissues, lozenges and several kinds of Benylin. Frances and David, whom I met for dinner and a performance by musician Steve Somers at the Mad Hatters last night, very kindly offered to whisk little Biff away on a 48 hour mini break to the Ile de Ré, which means that I don’t have to leave my bed at all today.

Lying beneath my Laura Ashley eiderdown I’ve been doing some thinking. Over the past month I’ve made a good start on book 3. It has a title, I’ve written the jacket and marketing blurb and I know exactly where it will start and finish. Each chapter is mapped out in an A4 lined notebook and already I have written 10,000 words (about a tenth of the book.)

It will be, I hope, a powerful and ultimately uplifting tale with some very positive messages that will resonate with many people.

The problem is this: one of the central characters in book 3 is my friend who is in hospital recovering from a terrible car accident. I can’t write the book without writing about (and more importantly, identifying) him, and while I don’t have a problem writing the story that preceded the accident, I don’t feel comfortable writing about the accident itself, the coma, or subsequent events.

To do so, would seem to me as if I am exploiting someone else’s terrible misfortune and invading their right to privacy at a time when they are very vulnerable. It seems morally wrong. The obvious solution is to seek permission from my friend, but it will be some time before I can do that.

On my last visit to see him, I found myself wondering if he will ever live anything close to his previous life again.

Although he is conscious and can recognise people, and although doctors now say, after some tests on his legs, that there is even a possibility he will walk again, it is hard to believe it at the moment as he remains motionless and does not say very much at all. It is as if he is in a state of shock and his recovery has reached a plateau.

On the positive side, it is only two months since he came out of the coma and yet already he appears to comprehend and speak two languages. There are also flashes of his old personality:

‘Ne faites pas gaffe!’ [Don’t mess it up!] he murmured as I fiddled with the iPod that I’d charged with his favourite songs.

The reality is that while I am grateful he is still in the world, he has a mountain to climb.

Bearing this in mind, I have made a decision. I will go ahead and write Tout 3 - even if I ultimately decide not to publish and it is only me that ever reads it.

I’m planning to have the manuscript finished by the end of February and, as the past three months have already shown - with prayers, thoughts, positive energy (whatever you wish to call it - you never know what might happen in that time.

comments (5)

1. Posted by sherry on November 21, 2010 11:21 PM

I totally understand your dilemma. In three months time however, your friend may be in a completely different place in his life and may even take strength from what you write.
Get well soon x


2. Posted by Miriam Fenster on November 22, 2010 12:46 AM

I hope you have someone there who can keep you supplied with a hot and delicious soup. Still waiting for book #2 to arrive in the local bookshops. Be well.


3. Posted by Tricia on November 22, 2010 11:02 PM

Hi Karen, sorry to hear you are laid low with flu. With regard to your book I can see it is a real dilemma, but I think you should write the book as you always originally planned and that the answer as to whether to publish will become clearer as you progress with the book. Either your friend will become well enough to let you know how he feels about including details of the accident & naming him or you will come to a decision about this yourself. It may be that only you will read the story, for now at least but perhaps in time it will become acceptable to publish the full story. Personally I hope one day to read your third book, but you can only publish if you feel right about it. Hope you feel better soon.


4. Posted by Paul on December 28, 2010 8:49 PM

I suggest you keep writing. I think you'll find that the male ego will lap it up!

See you next year, Happy New Year!

Paul & Cilla


5. Posted by Angela on January 6, 2011 6:14 PM

I agree with Tiscia, and hope that your friend will benefit in months to come from seeing all the love and care you and others have for him. Still thinking of you lots, best wishes,
Angela


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