My friend Stephen Carter wrote: "In all of my published essays the end is what came hardest. I've written at least 25 endings to every essay, trying to find that perfect position. And, it never fails. I find that I have to change myself in order to find that ending. David Mamet wrote that a writer must go through the journey with his main character and that he must come out of it changed. That's been very true with me."
This insight definitely gives me pause when it comes to my own recently published novel, Kindred Spirits. Could I have used the novel as a springboard for my own apparently unresolved repentance? Could I have actually used it as a catalyst for my OWN change?
My novel is quite autobiographical on some thematic levels, sort of a fictionalized return to the scene of some of my own crimes nearly twenty years ago. (That may be one reason why I wrote in a female POV--to psychically distance myself on some levels so I could more readily fictionalize personal themes on another.)
While I felt uncomfortable about my sins and went through the whole repentance process and didn't return to the sins, sometimes I wonder if my repentance was fully completed on a spiritual level. Basically, I don't think I ever achieved a sufficient degree of remorse and contrition. I didn't really blame myself for the sins. Deep down inside, I felt--and perhaps still feel--that the sins were somewhat inevitable, not really anything I could have realistically avoided, just a natural part of my mortal experience. I acknowledged the sins as wrong but didn't feel all that personally responsible or sorry. In
the novel, I give Eliza similar feelings.
So if I could have somehow revisited my own imperfect repentance through the novel and actually achieve a new level of grief and regret for sins, that would have been spiritually productive for me. Frankly, I can't imagine how that could have happened, but it's a nice idea. Instead, the novel is more a mirror of my own spiritual journey, which apparently isn't completed yet, thus leaving the novel with a particularly unfinished feeling for those further along in their spiritual journey.