Saturday, April 6, 2013

A to Z Challenge: F is for Forgiveness



Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge!

This year, I’m focusing on two themes:  Emotions and grammar,
depending on which letter we’re on each day.

I’ll be sharing mostly what I’ve learned about writing emotion into a novel, but I’ll also be throwing in a few key grammar lessons, pet peeves I’ve picked up while working as an editor.

Today’s an emotion day!

__________

F is for forgiveness:  the act of giving pardon for or remission of an offense or debt; to absolve.

I was going to take the easy way out today and discuss the emotion of fear, but when I completed my first novel, The Mistaken, a strong and undeniable theme emerged, and that theme was forgiveness.  Seems I have a real issue with it, having quite a few people in my life who’ve hurt me in unspeakable ways.  And I’ve had to deal with not being forgiven myself, something which has plagued me for over twenty-eight years.  So I think I have a keen understanding of it.

It’s not an easily believable emotion to write about.  Forgiveness is something that typically comes slowly, over a relatively extended period of time.  In my novel, the protagonist cannot come to terms with the egregious consequences a stranger’s reckless act has had upon his life—the death of his pregnant wife.  He spends a great deal of time conspiring to get even.  He doesn’t begin to heal until he realizes that many of the consequences he’s suffered are due to his own shortcomings, but by that point, it’s too late, and he’s set into motion a horrifying chain of events.

And that, it seems, is the key to forgiveness, to understand not only what instigated the perpetrator to offend, but that she, the offender, is like anybody else, and, most especially, that she is like us.  So writing about forgiveness must include the entire process:  knowing all the facts and how they unfolded, understanding the motivation behind it, and acknowledging the victim's own culpability. 

This doesn’t happen easily or quickly.  People must be allowed their anger and resentment first.  Then they can be made to see that things are not always as they appear, or are as simple as black and white.  When the victim can see the enemy as human, with all the frailties that encompasses, only then can he forgive.  There must be an earnest sensitivity to the very offense she committed, as well as the offender, and her victim.  Otherwise, the act of forgiving feels far-fetched and unbelievable.
  
The act of forgiveness, or his inability to do so, often reveals qualities about the character, his substance, his deficiencies, his level of sincerity, and authenticity, all things the character must eventually be attuned to himself before he can ever move forward.  



24 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

I saw an interesting article earlier this week in reaction to our "forgiveness culture." It was talking about the virtues of not forgiving. It was... interesting.

mooderino said...

I think some people expect to be forgiven and get annoyed if they aren't. Or they repeat the behaviour until they create forgiveness fatigue.

mood
Moody Writing

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's like grief - there are stages through which everyone must pass.

JeffO said...

I'd be interested in seeing this article Andrew mentioned above. "Forgiveness culture"--that's an interesting idea. But it goes hand-in-hand with a "loves to tear down" culture.

Maggid said...

Like your writing -
I was taught we must forgive - so the pattern of thought we might be holding inside does us no harm . .

Hey, Thanks!
Happy "F" Day!
-g-

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true about the stages of forgiving. I tend to forgive easily. But I haven't had anything earth shattering terrible happen to me like a crime to challenge that.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Powerful post. Forgiveness is a key theme in my children's book too. Not forgiving can make us a prisoner for life, and forgiveness can set us free, but it's a hard road to get there. Well done.

Samantha May said...

Forgiving is a tough thing to do, but I think often times the pain lessens if we forgive. My main character has a hard time forgiving, but that journey is part of the story :)

Have a great weekend!

Nick Wilford said...

If we don't forgive it makes things harder in the long run because we can't move on. Very well-written post.

HeatherL said...

Well done. I find I have a hard time with forgiveness especially when trust has been broken. I'm am especially tough on people who have hurt those I love!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Forgiveness is as much about the person who must forgive as the person he's forgiving. Holding on to all of that anger become terribly heavy after a time. Your character exemplified that.

Mark Means said...

Forgiveness can be very hard, sometimes, but if we don't exercise it then what's inside of us will eat us alive.

DearKrissy said...

One of the biggest problems I face when writing about forgiveness, is that I always claim it wouldn't be that hard for person A to forgive person B, but then something similar happens in my life, and for a long time, I feel like there is no way in hell I am forgiving said person.
I try to remember that forgiveness isn't for the other person. It's for me...so I can let go and move on with my life.

Krissy @ DearKrissy

klahanie said...

Hi Nancy,

To forgive and forget. Not always easy. However, if the anger we feel is all consuming, we have to make some vital decisions for our own well being.

Have a lovely weekend, Nancy.

Gary

Ruth said...

This is so true. I always find it weird when something bad happens and the person says "I forgive you" right away. I have to let go of anger or disappointment before I can forgive.

Chuck said...

Sorry to hear even the periphery of your own personal problems. That is sad but you seemed to have overcome and lived your life.

As they say to forgive is "divine". I have forgiven things people have done and sometimes even my wife cannot fathom why. I have coached many who have worked for me over the years to be the "better man (or person)" in instances where there is division.

Sadly, being human, I don't always follow my own advice, but I do try. Not doing it is a life-suck and frankly, I don't want to waste time like that.

Great Post Nancy!! You know I'M one of your fans:)

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Lady's Knight said...

Nancy you can tell by the comments that you hit something that people don't just deal with as writers...

Personally if we can't forgive we have issues (perhaps from our past) that will control us. Forgiveness is not easy but living with unforgiveness is ...

something you wrote a year ago during A to Z caused us to tweek a story-line. Came back to say "Hi"


Stephsco said...

Forgiveness is powerful in writing, especially when the reader sees a great injustice, and really experiences it with the character. A cool topic to write about.

Nancy Thompson said...

:-)

Maria Dunn said...

Hi Nancy, I never thought of forgiveness as an emotion before. I think forgiveness is as much a gift to ourselves as the one being forgiven, but in forgiving we also willing accept that the burden of the debt which is being pardoned is absorbed as it is absolved. In so doing though, we are freed. Rather paradoxical I suppose. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

Carrie Butler said...

Well said, my friend!

joylene said...

Great post, Nancy. I think it goes both ways in novels. There are so many times where a character won't forgive and yet the act itself would make his life so much easier. Hence conflict developes because of an innate inability to forgive.

Freud might say it's because we can't forgive ourselves, and because we punish ourselves outwardly, we inflict our rage on others, while causing ourselves more grief.

Fascinating subject.

Tammy Theriault said...

Forgiveness can be so hard. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves first... great post!

Sam Edge said...

What a powerful and important post Nancy I am so glad you popped by and we connected. I have had to deal with forgiveness at depth as a survivor of various forms of childhood abuse. I have written a few posts on forgiveness but recently I have been struggling with the idea of reconciliation - forgiveness is one thing but true reconciliation can be tricky. I would lob to hear your thoughts: http://www.edgeynotes.com/2012/10/the-edge-of-forgieness.html

I can't wait to check ut your book :)