My first novel, The Barn, is finally complete, other than the final chapter. The ending is there in my mind and I see it clearly. I will no doubt finish it, re-read the entire novel from front to back and share it with my wife.
It will never see print though. Not virtually, not physically.
I was so excited about the idea of it being out there, being shared with the world (or those of the world who cared to read it) and being a story that might bring pleasure to the reader, in whatever way psychological horror can bring pleasure of course.
But I realized something unfortunate. It was a dawning epiphany that nearly made me stop writing the book altogether.
Since I won’t be publishing the book there are no spoilers here. The quick, down and dirty version of the story is simple. A veteran of the US Army suffers a devastating loss when his wife is raped and murdered. A little more than a year later he is taken hostage by car-jacking hitchhikers who make it clear they intend to end his life. Having already had a miserable year, a miserable week and miserable day, this is the final straw that breaks the mind of an otherwise well adjusted man.
Managing to overpower his attackers, in spite of being injured in the process, his mind fractures over a period of days during which he holds them captive and repays their vile behavior with some of his own.
It’s pretty cut and dried when you get down to it. Seems good enough as a premise, I think.
The problem is I realized the average reader would see it in the light of, “Wow. Another vet with PTSD goes nuts and hurts people. No surprise there!”
Sadly no matter how I tried to write and rewrite it, no matter what lengths I went to in an effort to demonstrate that this break had nothing to do with his prior military service, I realized that unless I threw in a reality breaking, bold print statement outright saying, “HEY! READER! THIS MAN IS NOT SUFFERING FROM PTSD!” there would simply be no way to make it clear enough for more than about ten percent of readers to truly grasp it.
Being a veteran myself, and knowing many others, I feel there are more than enough films, books and non-fictional tales of veterans who “go nuts” because of PTSD and do terrible things. I can not, in good conscience, send out a book into the world that will add to that opinion of we vets.
I will continue work on other projects, though I have to admit this has knocked some of the wind out of my sails.