Nothing is as hard for a fiction writer as reality. I’m not talking about the grim reality of searching for an agent, the marathon of trying to get something published or even the annoyance, carving out time to write between phone calls that start, “Since you aren’t doing anything at the moment.”
I’m talking about real-life experiences that make you want to stand up and shout, “Say what?” at the top of your lungs. If what you hear is incredible, it will be non-credible when you write it down. Truth is not only stranger than fiction; it’s harder to write about too.
I worked as a psychologist for more than thirty years. I heard and saw things that are hard to believe. I once had a client whose son offered to help her give up drugs, find a better job and find a better place to live. He said even though she had been a terrible mother, (her addiction led to situations dangerous to her children and her children were removed from her care by social services) he forgave her. Shortly after he made the offer, he was killed in a drive-by shooting. My client said her son came to her each night and silently stared at her. I suggested that she invite him to join us in therapy. I also asked why she thought her son, who was supportive and loving when alive, would be so different just because he died.
She did not invite him to join us, but she did talk to him; she found out he still wanted her to get sober and to improve her life. At work she spoke up when her boss used offensive language. To her surprise her boss started to respect her more. In a second surprise, her older sister called to say she was getting a new car. She offered my client her old car, which was much better than the rattle-trap she was driving, which worked only sporadically. Out of the blue, the housing authority she had applied to five years earlier called and offered her housing. Her son supported her efforts during their evening chats. He insisted she set a date to stop using drugs entirely. She did. Not long after that she graduated from therapy.
I never met her son. He did not ever accompany his mother to therapy. So, you tell me, was he a hallucination, a ghost or an angel? It didn’t matter to me. Maybe a little thing like dying, did not effect the love he felt toward his mother.
Warren Bull has won a number of awards including Best Short Story of 2006
from the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and The Mysterious Photo Contest in Alfred
Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine ,January/February 2012. He has more than forty
short stories published, novels, ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR THE DEFENSE, HEARTLAND, MURDER IN THE MOONLIGHT, and a short story collection, MURDER MANHATTAN STYLE. He blogs at http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/ He is lifetime member of Sisters in Crime and an active member of Mystery Writers of America.
(The Killer Nashville Guest Blog series is coordinated by KN Executive Director Beth Terrell (http://www.elizabethterrell.com/). To be a part of this series, contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.)