Originally, I wrote the first chapter of Tricrossed as a one shot called "glass dreams." It was horrifying, the darkest fall from grace. I was...
Let me explain first.
In a lot of ways, I write from within a character. There is a quote at the bottom of chapter one, something I told a friend when he asked me why I have an unusually empathic connection to my work. "Art is a personal and sacred thing, inseparable from self. I give away pieces of my soul everyday, written in clever turns of phrase." I remember typing those words and the sudden relief I felt when I had found those words to validate the awe that overcomes me when I read and when I write. The respect I have for the craft and those who practice it truthfully.
So, when writing truthfully, you can harm yourself; you can die with the character and lose something. I wrote "glass dreams" and was haunted by it.
Toushirou was so lost, in so much pain. I cried the whole time I wrote it. And I crossed the line between self and character. This is good, a gift rarely found when you struggle to write as much as I do. I have only felt such a strong bond between my intent and the expression of that intent four times before. Still, "glass dreams" is not a piece I would have chosen to drown myself in because it struck me in a very real way. It mirrored a loss in my own life and the sunless devastation I use writing to escape from.
So, I had no choice really. I had to go back and give Toushirou hope because I needed to believe in the power of redemption for those brave enough to seek it. I started with a vague understanding of what I wanted and took a leap of faith. I knew going in that I would have to pour myself into their souls, to abandon the fear crippling me after I wrote "glass dreams." And I knew that I would write it truthfully; so there was a possibility that I wouldn't find a happy ending. I had butchered Toushirou beyond repair; how could I save him without diminishing the honesty I'd given so much to achieve? I didn't know, and frankly, I was too desperate to care.
I had an idea. Oddly, it was about god, a concept I didn't believe in but maybe I do a little now. Future tense/second point of view is like god's point of view, knowing exactly what people are going to do and knowing what will happen or never happen because of those actions. But we are not without freewill. By changing ourselves, we change the future and thus god's view of our future. It's an abstract concept I had never used, but I needed it now. So, I played god, moving in and out and running forward with a bold conviction of these characters' futures. And as I watched them change, I rewrote their futures. Like forgiveness or reaffirmation, I gave them chances to earn the each other. To be alive again. It's a testament to their natural chemistry because they ran with those opportunities—making choices that remained in character and without pre-planning on my part.
I wrote this story on the fly, each chapter without a plan and in one sitting. And I refused to read the story in full until it was finished.
"waking with the living" is the antithesis of "A line" in every way. I felt such joy and triumph, and, as ridiculous as this will sound to you, I cried the entire time I wrote it. More importantly, this ending gave me more than I gave it. I gave away pieces of my soul in clever turns of phrase, and I got a resurrected dream of the power of love and the virtue of bravery. The courage to love and love again and love one more time because you will die if you do not persist in chasing life.
I've read stories like this one, I suppose, though not this short and certainly not in this format or style. I wrote it this way because time is strange and magical when you return to innocence. It's not a single event or one or even a group of conversations. I couldn't achieve my ends with a larger cast or a lot of dialog because the majority of this happened under the surface of the characters. I couldn't do it in first person either because healing, like love, is subconscious until you wake up one day like, "So, yeah. I feel... better."
Yes, it's very short and lacking peripheral elements, but I don't think they would have served any purpose here because it's story about only two people finding their way around two girls who represent the world's attempts to steal idealism and purity. Dialog was minimal on accident. It just didn't happen.
So, thank you for your comments, questions, and compliments. Mostly, thank you for sharing the deeply emotional reactions some of you felt while reading Tricrossed. These make me braver, willing to go to those intense places in my soul again.
It's just another thing this story gave to me. Not only did it resurrect a dream; I got to share it. A line from the epilogue says it better than I can: "sharing her dreams becoming his becoming theirs." I have always loved that about the craft. How stories—not words or techniques, but stories themselves—connect people outside of time or place because somewhere at sometime, someone will wonder and feel the same way I do. A communion of souls.
You've been wonderful over the past few weeks, especially those who read the one shot and braved the horror to read it again. After a review I received last night, I read Tricrossed for the first time. I was hopeful at the end, perhaps more so than if I had started it in a brighter place because, in my opinion, the contrast is the only thing that matters. How can the morning be so bright if midnight was not so dark?
PS: Because I feel braver, I'm considering another story similar to this one. I wrote a one shot called "tin man & scarecrow" which is black and hopeless, perhaps more so than "glass dreams" because the central conflict is steeped in regret rather than loss. It's harder to forgive yourself than it is to forgive the world. However, I think leaving "tin man & scarecrow" as is will achieve nothing more than the proliferation of the "life sucks, so fuck it" mentality I despise. Hence, I'm going to try to save it before it kills someone (probably Shinji). It won't be a sequel per say, but I'm going to use future/second person again. I'm probably going to name it electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) which follows the theme of merging the unlikely.
(This is a general response to several reviews and PMs which said in different words the same things: the same questions and comments. So, I thought I would add an author note because there are none in Tricrossed.)