Good news from my escritoire people! That’s writing desk for those of you who don’t speak French and/or are uncultured ;). The story, which I recently talked about, is coming along nicely. The other night, I put the finishing touching on Chapter 5, am now busily writing Chapter 6, and am starting to feel like this idea has legs. Now, I just need to make sure it can walk on its own. Because believe it or not, good ideas write themselves.
So here’s one of the biggest issues I’ve been wresting with so far for the story. And it’s an issue so very difficult and controversial that it deserves to be in all-caps and have line all to itself…
In this story, I’ve made a big deal about the fact that the main character – Jeremiah Ward – is a former investigator who was disgraced. The reason for this has to do with an addiction that he developed as a result of his work and living the Extro lifestyle. Basically, I decided that he began taking a narcotic substance which, in his day and age, triggers feelings of euphoria and a sense of being “outside of time”. All it needs is a name…
While discussing the idea with a friend, they surprised me by saying that what i described sounding a lot like their own experience. As I put it, the character of Ward developed a substance abuse problem in the course of his career because after living for many decades with implants, neural augmentation, and biomedical enhancements – all of which were required in order for people to “keep up” with the rapid pace of change – he routinely felt the need to balance himself out. In the words I have planned for the story, he claimed that the drugs “made him feel more real”.
She immediately understood what I meant, and went on to tell me about how in her own previous job (a very high-stress and difficult profession) she had developed an addiction for opiates. Like so many people who work in fields like the military, police work, medical care, emergency services, criminal justice, counseling, etc., drugs, alcohol, and other substances can become a crutch. Something you take just to get through the day and forget that tomorrow, you have to go back into it.
I drew that inspiration from stories I’ve heard about people who need to take medications regularly in order to avoid becoming erratic, depressed, or manic. I know a little bit about this myself, and have friend who require it to a far greater extent. The difficulty of taking anti-depressant, anti-psychotics, and the like is that while they help balance you out, you can sometimes feel like you’re not feeling natural or normal.
Many a time I have wished I could remember what it was like when I was younger, before I began struggling with OCD. While I can’t remember a time when I didn’t exhibit the symptoms of this disorder, there was a time when things like panic attacks, depression, high-anxiety and worrying over nothing were not a going concern. Things that set me off today were mere bothers back then, and I didn’t worry about half the things I worry about now. Truth is, I wish there was a pill that I could take that would make it all go away…
And that, I think, is the mentality behind substance abuse. It’s also what I think makes it so dangerous.
In any case, that’s the characters back story. It explains his fall from grace, his current circumstances (at the beginning of the story, he’s on a penal colony on Mercury) and offers a chance for redemption. All that’s left is to write about his journey from darkness to light, and come up with a name for the drug.
Seriously, any suggestions?