This a follow up of sorts to my Father's Day post. A few days ago I was talking to a friend about her sick mother. It made me think of my own experience watching my father's long decline, then death. Not just the experience, but also the way I reacted to it, and how it still affects me today.
In my earlier post, I mentioned using some of my personal history in a recent screenplay, called "Origin Story." I believe all writers do this. We take an emotionally charged event in our life and we use our work to process it. We mull it over, look at it from different points of view, and even rewrite it. After all, can't life stand a little improvement? In the three plus years since my father's death, I've used aspects of the experience in at least four of my screenplays. It's not always a conscious decision - just one of those things that has worked its way into my psyche and out it comes during the creative process. In one script, I made a character a hospice nurse. In another, the protagonist has recently experienced his father's death and still has a hospital bed in his house to prove it. And in this new script, "Origin Story," I deal with it head on in a story about a man helping his father through chemotherapy. Is this a form of self therapy? Definitely. But it also makes my work richer and gives it more emotional depth. And If relaying my experience, filtered through a fictional story, can help others deal with their own complex grief, then it's a win-win. It also makes me feel that this is a higher calling. At least it's more than just making shit up about fictional characters!
One last thing. My manager just read "Origin Story" and told me he loves it . . .