Mom and I were having a talk the other day about Monster. She really likes it; however, she sees that it is necessarily quite dark and far more intense than anything I’ve previously written. I knew it would be dark when I first sat down to write it, and usually if I know a story idea is darker than I’m used to, I don’t go ahead with it. But this one was backed by a lot of prayer and I never once felt reservations about writing it.
I knew Mir’s story had to be told, because I knew it would be important. I knew it would affect lives, and it already has. In short, I knew God wanted me to write it.
I knew – still know – that it needs to be written, that stepping back and opting for something easier isn’t an option. This book has been incredibly difficult to write at times. Not in the ‘I don’t know what to write’ way, but in the ‘my soul is bleeding’ way. I became so attached to this story, so attached to Mir, that there were several scenes that I physically almost couldn’t take it. I know it sounds crazy, but I wouldn’t lie to you.
Mir, as a character, has done something to me that no other character – not even Eristor or Simon or Brand or anyone – has done to me. Do I love them? Yes. Do we argue? Yes. Do I sometimes get so frustrated with them that I feel like throwing in the proverbial towel and putting them in time-out? Yes. All of them, at one point, have annoyed me.
Except Mir. As I wrote him, something strange happened – beneath his fury and terror and blind madness at the beginning of the book, I knew that I was creating a good character. But wait, don’t I think Eristor and Simon and Brand are good characters too?
Well, yes. I wrote them, after all.
That’s not the kind of good I meant. I mean the kind of good that is willing to trust someone when they’ve never been given any reason to trust anyone. Ever. I mean the kind of good that sees a glimmer of hope and holds onto it, wants to share it, and won’t let go. The kind of good that I’m not. Mir has influenced me, when I thought it would be the other way around. Does Mir have problems? More than I ever hope to properly count.
But his childlike innocence, his faith when there is nothing to believe in, his innate struggle to do the right thing even though he’s never been told wrong from right, have really opened my eyes to some flaws in my own life. Anyone in my family will tell you that there are times while writing Monster that I’ve been a monster myself (but not a loveable one). I didn’t really like learning all the bad things about myself; having them held up against my own character, a literary mirror to my flaws.
He’s deep, Mir. He says things even I hadn’t thought about, and he thinks even more. He’s special, and the closer I get to ending this book – scarily close – the more loathed I am to let him go. Part of me is relieved. “Move on to something easier,” it says. And then I laugh and say “Cayne isn’t going to be any easier.” The bigger part of me, though, wants to grab onto Mir and hold him tight and never let go because the thought that once I finish this book I’ll be through with his story is almost too much to bear.
So I try not to think about it as I sit down at the keyboard, pull up his story, and near the closing point. He’ll forgive me, I know. It’s the sort of person he is. This sounds like a farewell letter, even though he isn’t gone yet. Not quite. And so, as insane as it sounds –
Thank you, Mir. You’ve taught me to be a better person. Whether I use what you’ve taught me…well, I’ll do my best. I tend to have trouble with that. I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss you so hard it hurts. You’ve been wonderful.