"Desde la trinchera, you te escribo..."
That's the first line of one of my favorite songs by an eighties pop group, Flans. Yes, it's in Spanish. When I discovered the group, my Spanish was passable at best. Still, this particular song is so haunting and lovely. I mean the gal is singing her heart out, and I always loved it.
It means: I write to you from the trenches.
I got that it was about war, even back then. The guy is telling his girl back home to "olvida me" (forget me") and it's all very tragic and heartbreaking. But I loved it so much.
Flash forward mmmmbm mfm years or so and I'm writing a World War One/past life/romance/suspense paranormal. (Yes, I can have that many genres! I can!) The point is, I'm up to my eyeballs in trench warfare.
See how it all fits together? Wanna see if I can work Star Trek in here too? :)
I'll get to it. Suffice it to say that I was thinking a lot about situations where death was immanent. The thing about the trench warfare that really struck me was how close these soldiers were to the enemy. Imagine it, you're stuck in a ditch and people are dying and you can't go anywhere and you can hear the enemy singing and moving around. You know that you could die at any second. You are constantly reminded of that fact.
So I tried to imagine how they tolerated it. Understand that I'm a person who never, ever, had any interest in warfare. I cringed when my Dad put on war movies, I suffered through hours and hours of documentaries about World War Two and Vietnam, not because I don't appreciate history, but because for a teenage girl, the subject just really isn't that fascinating.
Now I'm obsessed with it, I'm writing it, and I'm still only starting to understand. In particular because my father had experienced more about war than we really grasped as children. He'd experienced enough that he didn't want to talk about it. I don't think anyone who hasn't lived during war can really grasp it...not fully.
But my out, from a fictional standpoint, presented itself through my genre/subject matter. I was dealing with past lives, you see. My protagonist was having flash backs. She was coming to terms with the idea of reincarnation by experiencing things very vividly from a previous life. For her, it became (at that great turning point moment) not just a matter of faith but one of knowledge. Once she'd assimilated that death was not remotely permanent, it took away the thing's power.
I deal with this a bit in my Changeling Race trilogy too, but on a less physical level. Marcus is telling Liz about the bad things he's discovered in himself, which she relates to Jung's concept of The Shadow. She tells him, (I believe quite accurately) that our shadow has no power if we look at it head on. It's the denial that makes it deadly. The thing sneaking up on you that can take the wind out of your sails.
So back to the current work in progress. I have a heroine whose life is threatened, and she suddenly realizes that if she dies, so what? She'll come back, and she knows it. Now death is still inconvenient, and scary, but what that knowledge does for the character's transformation is really what the story is about.
I was so proud of it too. Then I pulled out my Quotable Star Trek...I warned you this was coming...and found out that my brilliant idea wasn't nearly as original or mind-blowing as I suspected. :)
There on page 174, in the chapter on Peace and War, I found the following quote:
"When you cease to fear death, the rules of war change."
Damn it. "From the trenches, I write to you..." Star Trek stole my idea...er, um. Okay, maybe not exactly.
But there is nothing new under the sun, so they say.
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"Olivida," forgetful, me.