Apathy: In and Outside of the Opera

5 Feb

This opera is autobiographical… ish.

Being a diabetic writing about diabetes, there’s no way around it. Little bits of my personality and memories are embedded into the main character, but I never wanted to make it totally about my experiences.

When I read Kerri’s blog post on sixuntilme.com about retinopathy, I was struck by how similar our experiences were. It was like she had been in the room with me. Rather than trying to one-up her, I decided that my opera would be based on the sum experience of the diabetes online community – through fiction, I can create a story that everyone can relate to!

While the characters and scenarios Charlie faces are fictional, the emotions are real – more so than I’d bargained for…

I knew that writing about such personal experiences would be hard.
I knew that it would be an emotional roller-coaster.
But I had no idea of the extent to which it would effect me.

The Climax
Writing the climax portion of the libretto was the hardest part. I struggled to find a way to make the end dramatic… It’s not realistic to portray a modern diabetic dying of traditional complications, and even if it was, it’s so far down the road. What I decided on was to have Charlie decide between extremist diabetes management in order to have perfect health, or apathy which would lead to more and more complications.

Thinking about how to sculpt the scene took up most of my thoughts for weeks, months! I’m a pretty proficient procrastinator to begin with, but I found that I was getting literally NO work done at home. I’d go to a cafe or diner and have no problem working, but at home, nothing!

After much soul searching, I realized what was happening: my subconscious wouldn’t let me resolve that situation for Charlie, when I’ve never resolved it for myself…
How could I ask Charlie to make the right decision, when I can’t even make it for myself?!?

In describing Charlie’s and my shared apathy to a friend, the parallels became obvious.
“My A1C will be lower next time…”
became
“Just one more smoke… I’ll quit next week…”
and we realized that it wasn’t just us. Apathy is the way of our generation.

In the end, I found a way for Charlie to convincingly make the right decision.
With any luck, Charlie will convince me to do the same!

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One Response to “Apathy: In and Outside of the Opera”

  1. TDF (@taradawne) February 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    This is a nice post, Michael!

    Compelling works of art have that inner tension – that “oh no, they’re not going to do THAT, are they?!” feeling in our chests as characters blithely sail through their plot trajectories. It helps that everything has to be explained, acted, and wrapped up in 3 hours max!

    Yet in real life, it’s more like trudging through an oozing slick of temptations to procrastinate, eat loads of yummy convenient un-nutritious foods, avoid committing to others, and so on. A much harder, but also more rewarding, battle.

    I’m glad that you’re inspired by your protagonist to keep on keeping on.

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