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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Then Suddenly...

I have always thought this statement to be part of my writer’s lexicon. A narrative tool that can move characters from inaction to action, a statement that can turn the individual’s life inside out in one fell swoop. It is the without warning here comes life’s complication tool. These sudden and unexpected events allow the fiction writer to keep the reader on their toes.

But life imitates fiction or vice versa in the abrupt and unforeseen arrival of pain, sadness and loss. No more obvious to me in the sudden deaths that occurred in this past month. Some of them I simply heard about, others connected to me in one way or another. All of them surprising and impossible to prepare for. Each loss leaving a family and friends or community grieving. The unanticipated events in life are destabilising, they throw us into chaos and strip away our sense of control.

It’s why it creates drama in stories. We think we know a character but it is only when he or she is confronted with a bombshell or emotional blow that we really come to understand them. I mean ‘she lived comfortably and never had anything to worry about’ isn’t even a believable synopsis of a fairy-tale. It is the description of a life barely lived. It has no place in fiction and is unrealistic in life. 


Writers like to throw curve balls, disruption should be expected. And in real life? Well we can’t really live if we are constantly fearful of that which might disrupt us. It’s like saying I’ll never love anyone in case I lose them or I’ll never allow people I love freedom in case it ends badly. The things that drop into our world suddenly are often unwelcome, particularly if they hurt. But it usually these events that teach us about ourselves and allow us to be stronger than we ever knew was possible. We cannot live in fear of the unanticipated. Things will startle, ambush and bewilder us. This is the certainty in fiction and in life.

So fear not the complications, particularly those that are not of your making. Think on these events, changes and losses, as chances to become our best selves. In the early days of sudden and unwarranted happenings we are adrift and can’t imagine that any good can come from such sadness. But I know it does; eventually. It’s not all about ‘silver linings’ platitudes; it’s about the very essence of what it is to be human.

We are a resilient design; made stronger by challenge.

(PS for my readers this might be a little hint for the events that unfold in the second Lily O’Hara novel due soon!)

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