Friday, 2 October 2015

No Coincidences.

I know it's happened to you, too. You've had a completely random song stuck in your head, and that same song has then come on the radio. You were thinking about texting your friend, but then they text you at that exact moment. Some people call them coincidences; I like to think that it's something deeper than that. 

So I'm a little scared by the "coincidence" that happened to me this morning. 

A year or so ago I was reading a story on Mibba, written by one of my readers that had fast become a friend. If I'm being honest, I don't remember too much about it. I remember there was a woman hunting down a group of men one by one, murdering them for a crime they had committed against her. She left the worst for last, so he would know she was coming. It was very well written, to the point that it inspired me.

I came up with a general idea for a short story about a school shooting. 

I won't go into too much detail about it, because I'm still working it out for myself and I think we all know by now that I'm not a fan of revealing details about my works in progress. But it's important to know that I had this idea, that I've been toying with it for a year. 

Several weeks ago I purchased a book called In the Skin of a Monster. When I first read the blurb, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting: a book about a girl called Alice, whose identical twin sister took a gun to school one day and murdered seven people. I thought I was going to get a general young adult novel full of emotion, and I was hoping it would inspire my working on Dead Ringer. Because let's face it - I still have my writer's block, and it's killing me. 

The book was not what I expected, but the point is that it involved a mass school shooting. I finished reading that book last night, and it did indeed inspire me. But instead of inspiring Dead Ringer, it inspired my old school shooting story. 

And so I started working on that, the story that I have given the working title of The Demons in Us

I was toying with the idea of my prologue being in the format of a newspaper article, detailing the fictional school shooting. So I took to Google and started looking up some of the more well-known school shootings of the past: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. I wanted to see how those articles were written, to gain inspiration for mine. And it turned into me researching school shootings in general. 

So here's my proof that I was researching such things last night. I don't know why it says the 30th. I suppose it's in American time? Whatever the case, I was researching these things. I went to bed feeling ill from all of it, all sorts of questions spinning through my head. So much to work with, but could I ever write such a terrible subject so convincingly? 

I woke up this morning ready to work on my story, only to have a trending topic on Facebook slap me in the face. 

The one that told me there had been a school shooting in Oregon

Through my research, I learned that there had been a lot more of these shootings than I had expected. I don't know about in other countries, but in Australia I only hear about the bigger ones. Sandy Hook was the last shooting that I remember hearing about on the news. So seeing this one today, less than twelve hours after I had been reading articles on school shootings... 

It threw me. For the first time in a long while, I felt seriously shaken. 

It took my motivation from me. How could I write a story about a school shooting when there was one being reported on? Talk about bad timing! 

But when it comes to a topic like this, is there ever really going to be a good time? The safest bet would probably be to not write it at all. To put the idea from my mind and never talk about the subject again. Because it's taboo, right? But if writers didn't tackle those subjects, where would we be today? 

I'm obviously not going to blow any minds with my work, but it's all in good practice.

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