A Thousand Tiny Cuts
This past week has been a bit painful. Many of you know our infant grandson passed away. While I cannot know the pain his parents are going through, it has been doubly hard seeing your child suffering along with losing a beautiful new grandbaby. While grief itself will not kill us, sometimes the way we handle grief can.
As a fiction writer, I talk about pain and grief more easily than I do in real life. The filter through which I write my fiction allows me to view the world in such a way that makes the pain more bearable.
There is a torture method called a thousand tiny cuts. Many of you who watch spy movies or read criminal suspense thrillers may already be familiar with this. It was used on prisoners of war. It was designed to give maximum pain without fear of death. Think of a paper cut. A paper cut hurts, can even bleed but seldom leaves a scar and I’ve never known of one that was life threatening. If you have several paper cuts, one of them might leave a scar but it is doubtful you will die. You get the idea. Now imagine several cuts, some shallow like a paper cut, others just slightly deeper but none truly deep. If you are cut many times in the same place, after a while you build up scar tissue. Your skin thickens and in order to do damage your torturer must cut deeper, and the risk of death becomes greater.
In fiction as in real life, we deal with many little hurts. People are cruel or inconsiderate. Their words or actions cut and sting, some draw blood. Some of these hurts are done without malice, a parent fearing a child might get hurt if they try, might make them believe they cannot do something. That lack of faith cuts into their psyche and undermines their self-esteem. A sibling might tease leaving behind a scar that never goes away. Other cuts are done on purpose, a bully who cuts you down to make himself feel better or a cheating lover who blames you for their own weaknesses. Many cuts are done blindly, the person with the knife doesn’t know how much hurt their cut inflicts, some may not care.
This past week I felt as if I’d been sliced and diced. I’m still a bit raw but I’m healing. Some people choose to heap on more cuts when you are already bleeding but there are others who bring out the soothing balm and wrap your wounds.
In writing my new novel, my main character Janie butts heads with a controlling mother who has made her believe she couldn’t do anything because of her mother’s fears for her. She also suffers from a jealous sister and a well-meaning brother whose interference altered her life. After learning the truth of their involvement, she must work through her anger and betrayal to see if she can forgive them.
As Sheryl Crow sang, “The first cut is the deepest,” my character Janie revisits her first love but doesn’t trust herself enough to believe in second chances. Can the truth really set you free, and can Mike “…help me dry the tears that I’ve cried.”