Discover more from Chuck Palahniuk's Plot Spoiler
Photo Only: My Bad
Things you can't unsee
By not having a child I miss out
When you have a child you’re forced to revisit decisions and choices you made as a child. You witness someone at the same crossroads, and you get a second chance to recognize your mistakes. Both you and the child benefit from your do-over.
But what if you’re childless? A writer gets to relive the past in his/her work, and ultimately recognize mistakes that can be corrected. Not by writing in a literal way about that past, but by putting a character through circumstances that eventually come to represent the writer’s life. In writing Fight Club I came to embrace the fact that furniture will not make me an adult. In writing Choke I saw that pleasing authority figures will not bring me love. In that way—yes—the character becomes a surrogate self that allows you a second childhood, and a chance to correct your mistakes.
For the past few days I’ve seen that the folk rock singer Gordon Lightfoot killed a man. It seems that Lightfoot—the author of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and many other hits—held the man in a choke hold that led to the death. This, despite the fact that Gordon Lightfoot died recently.
This is the kind of recalibration that raising kids and writing characters allows you.