I recently rewatched The Fall, which has fast become one of my favorite movies ever. I loved it the first time I watched, but I think my second viewing has allowed me to appreciate it even more since I could fully take in the story and the metaphors and the fact that every single gorgeous shot in that movie matters. Since I was not trying to untangle the plot line from the surrealist fantasy, I could truly see how the two work together to tell what is really a very simple story in a beautiful, layered, and incredibly emotional way. Because it really is a very simple story: a broken man and a lonely child fix each other.
And I think that’s what spoke to me the most in this viewing - the fact that Roy is so very broken. From almost the first moment that you meet him, you can see that he is both lonely and hurting, that he is screaming out his pain to the world that just won’t listen to him. Because no one cares. They all know that he is suicidal, they know that he wants to end it, and they all just tell him to get over it. Alexandria is the only one who takes him seriously, and the only one who tells him that she doesn’t want him to die. He has all these friends, all these people in his life, and the only person who asks him to stay is a five year old girl he met in a hospital.
But the scene that shook me, the scene that won’t get out of my mind no matter how much I think about it is after Alexandria slips and hurts herself and Roy is trying to tell her that he is not what she thinks he is. He’s not a hero, he’s not a masked bandit, he’s just a man who lied to her and manipulated her to get what he wanted. He tells her that he is a coward. That he doesn’t deserve to live. Lee Pace’s acting is so beautiful and so heartbreaking that you can see every ounce of pain and despair and self loathing on his face, and you absolutely believe that this is a man who has lost the will to live. He truly hates himself, and he cannot bear the pain of living any longer.
And of course, because I am rather self-centered and have a one track mind, this all got me thinking about my own writing. Breathing’s Just a Rhythm is slowly but steadily drawing to a close (finally), and while I am for the most part very happy with it and the story I’ve told there are a few things that I wish I could change. I wish that I could have spent more time really looking at Martin and what drove him to the point of trying to take his own life. I wish that I could have examined the consequences more deeply, both for him and for everyone else in his life. I wish I could have tackled his own self-loathing better, and the improvements that he made.
One thing that I have struggled with in writing this story, especially in the later chapters when we are caught up with “present” time, is trying to keep Martin in character as he is on the show. While my story is technically an AU I suppose, I still worry, nearly constantly, that I am not being faithful to Martin as he is supposed to be. And I frequently worry that I have not been successful. Because honestly, the truth is that while Martin does occasionally stutter, and does have occasional bouts of self-pity and nervousness and everything else that my Martin has, he is still a confident and capable person. He really only gets flustered when something goes disastrously wrong (or when faced with a pretty woman), and I worry that I am being unfaithful to him in the way that I write him. But I must write him that way to get my story across.
So that brings me to what I cannot stop myself from thinking about. I want to tell more of this story, perhaps in a way that I cannot do within the confines of the Cabin Pressure universe. I want to explore what I think is the basis of Breathing really is, the question of what happens to a person when they fail the only thing that has ever mattered to them for the fifth time. We are constantly told as children, as teenagers, even as young adults that if we want something badly enough, and if we give it our all, then we will succeed. But what about when we don’t? What about when your best effort isn’t good enough, and you fail again and again at the goal around which you have framed your entire life, what does that do to you? That is what I want to explore.
And so I’m thinking about taking Breathing once I finish it and perhaps…reworking it into something original. I’ve been thinking a great deal about original writing recently, trying to come up with my own story and stretch myself into something beyond fanfiction. To tell the truth, I have never been able to come up with an original story of my own and for that reason I do not feel like I can truly call myself I writer. I can use the characters and plots that others have created, but what does it say that I cannot make my own? What’s the creativity in that? And that’s why I’m hesitant about rewriting Breathing - would it really be that creative? How much of it would be my own? I think I want to try, to create my own character to fill the space I have been trying to create for Martin, but it’s scary. I am terrified of simply making a shadow of Martin, of just parroting what someone else has created.
Where is the line between inspiration and theft?