The scarcity with which the topic of assisted dying is mentioned in written fiction can be interpreted in different ways. Authors look to make a living from their writing, and so wish to produce what are deemed to be the choicest tales. It can also be said that authors write what they like to read, so their lack of satisfaction with the last few books they have read in a particular genre may inspire them to write their own story, which will be free of all the irritating aspects of other people’s work.
No matter how many other reasons you could add, you would still be left with the same answer if you boiled them all down and looked at the residue: you write who you are. Whether you are besotted with a particular genre or besotted with the idea of lucrative writing, when you compose your next sentence, you are writing out who you really are.
So, who am I? I am neither of the above, otherwise my work would be able to rely on a guaranteed audience of readers who are eager for more of their favourite fare. I started my journey by asking myself a question which sent me on an adventure and ended up with an answer that stretched to over 330,000 words. It all started with a note jotted on a blank piece of paper – ‘A man is dying.’
That simple sentence, so easily erased with only a little ink, stayed with me and grew into the idea of how someone should face death, and how the rest of us should help that person to do so. There was no commercial sense in writing this out as a story, but the idea persisted. I have mentioned the idea of persuasive persistence in a previous post, so please take a look.
A theme that emerged as the story developed was the idea that we all live a shared life, and that we all weave our own thread into a larger whole that preceded us and will outlast us. Our imprint on the larger human narrative is what defines us, and I have sometimes wondered if that is the last question in the mind of a person who is close to death – ‘What imprint have I made and how long will I be remembered?’
I wrote this story because it is who I am. None of the characters are me, but I am in every word. If I had shied away from writing it, I would have always wondered what I could have created. Seeing myself as a body of text is more satisfying than I imagined it would be, so I consider the project to have been worthwhile, and that is the best that any of us can say about any endeavour. A good idea can lead you down a long road, and you are always better for having taken that route, no matter the work involved.