And so it begins, chapter one, page one, we write our first line, and we start our tale.
My original draft made the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan look like a teddy bear’s picknick.
I pulled no punches, spared no blushes, the opening incident was intentionally cruel in its delivery.
I added no trigger warnings – gave no option but to be immersed in what was happening.
Some subjects work well with kid gloves – and some don’t.
Amy’s tale deserved the honesty I gave it.
Time passed, the tale was completed and then offered out for critique.
I presented the first chapter to a writing group.
It wasn’t the rape, wasn’t the violence or indeed the cruelty that they balked at – nope it was why would a woman go walking/exploring on her own???
I tried to explain, to defend my rational, but they were not for turning – there was a credibility collapse with a young woman walking alone through Cairo at four in the morning – change it!
So, I did.
No longer was she off wandering (alone), now she was stolen from the middle of a crowd.
As the huddled masses jostle for taxis home Amy is plucked from the crowd and the tragedy that initiates our tale is carried out.
Version ‘new’ was carefully crafted to explain every act – to reinforce the notion that Amy as a blameless victim – no naïve culpability [?] in her own tragedy.
And as well written as the new version is, I don’t like it – but I’m now scared to change it back because the ‘credibility’ of my first incarnation was so universally rejected.
To my own self be true, or to the critics do I surrender?
I don’t know.
Stay safe – remain sane!