The Longest Way Down: the inspiration

November 17, 2016 Writing  No comments

May 2013    I saw The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a mediocre indie film where Ryan Gosling plays this stunt motorcycle rider covered in tattoos (no, I didn’t really buy it either). In the film, he has a teenage son. I don’t remember the particulars, but I just remember being so struck by how lost this boy was. He looked so sad and broken, like he was just trying to find his way.

Would he find his way? What would that look like? Could another person, a girl, save him?

The spark was lit. 

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December 2013    Started listening to Twenty One Pilots album Vessel. Fell in love with their song The Run and Go. I loved the lyrics, the tension, the angst. 

I can’t take them on my own, my own
Pa, I’m not the one you know, you know
I have killed a man and all I know
Is I am on the run and go.
Don’t wanna call you in the night time
Don’t wanna give you all my pieces
Don’t wanna hand you all my trouble
Don’t wanna give you all my demons
You’ll have to watch me struggle
From several rooms away
But tonight I’ll need you to stay.

The fire was kindled. 

2013-2014   In the first draft of The Charm Necklace, I had intended for Tony Cusato, the boy responsible for the death of Michael Amherst, to be sent to jail. I had a whole confrontation scene where Skylar goes to the prison to see him written out. But then, I discovered that in Michigan (where the story takes place) that if you kill someone while texting and driving that the max you can be charged with is a moving violation, which is a misdemeanor. And since Tony is a minor with no priors, he was not sentenced to any jail time. 

At first, I hated this. For the story. For our justice system. But then I saw this as a prime opportunity to write this broken boy’s story. To explore how you come back from taking the life of another. How do you move forward? How do you live with yourself? What does the rest of your life look like? 

May 2016    Season five finale of Once Upon a Time brings in a Jekyll/Hyde storyline. Dual nature of humanity. Good and evil in one person.

Color me intrigued. 

That was one-half of the story. The broken boy. Why he was broken in the first place. 

The other half of the story, the suicidal girl losing to her own darkness, was inspired by the song Self-Conclusion by The Spill Canvas. A song about suicide and depression and immense emotional pain. A song about a boy who finds a girl standing on the edge of a building (or a bridge?) about to jump. He starts talking to her, trying to convince her not to jump. (Turns out, he was there because he was about to jump to but then she showed up.) In the end, she gives him one night to show her that life is worth saving, that he is worth trusting. They walk off the stage together. End scene.

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It’s a song about two tortured souls trying to save each other. It’s romantic and angsty and dark, all the shit I love. 

But I’ve always believed that the only person who can fight your demons is you. Another person can hold a safe space for you as you do that. They can provide comfort and support. But one person cannot save another person in that way.

I do believe, though, that people can save each other in moments. Like there on that ledge. Like being there in that moment when someone needs you most. Just being there, to listen, to hold. 

The Longest Way Down is my exploration of what happens when that song ends. What happens when you take a broken boy and a lost girl and put them together? Can they save each other? Really, truly save each other? Or will it all implode? 

Because usually one broken person + another broken person = one fucking big hot mess. 

And if they can save each other, what does that look like? In real life? 

 

So there goes. Next up, The Longest Way Down: the process

Until next time, farewell & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity. 

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