While my work-in-progress, In the Bushes, is a novel, it is an Autobiographical Novel and there are composites of real people that make up the characters.
One of my friends from my 1978 gay days, George -the name he chose for his character- is being written as his real self. He’d be easily distinguishable because he was widely known.
Can you see me wince?
My real life friend George died a few weeks ago. My heart aches missing him.
And now I’m at a place where I’m lost as to how to continue with his character. He is integral to the story and being gone doesn’t really move the plot along.
(This feels incredibly morbid even talking about him in this manner, but I have to imagine others have similar issues, yes?)
Real Life Mimics Novel Life -or is it the other way around?
It never occurred to me to ask George what he would prefer I do if he died. Talk about morbid! He was active in the theater community and loved being the main focus of attention, so I like to think he would tell me to just go for it. Make George anything I want or need him to be, just let him have fun.
We had a great deal of history with each other, starting when I was 17 years old and ran into him at the front door of the Parliament House’s sprawling complex. Immediately, we went from acquaintances to confidantes and eventually roommates in several locations. We knew each other well.
We lived for the drag shows. We befriended folks in the piano bar. We disco danced quite clumsily.
When I had my kids, he was a sweet friend who supported me through my foray into straight life.
And now he’s gone.
Where to Go From Here
This is the challenging part of the “autobiographical novel,” – how much is me and how much is creativity?
I’ve pondered how to move forward for these weeks and think I’ve decided to let George lead the way. He does yack with me, so I could ask him what he wants to do next. I could let him have control of my hand and just write it out. I could listen as he dictates his desires then wake up and write the notes quickly lest I forget his words.
I could do all of that.
I miss George.