Oh, Take Three Breaths. Here there will definitely be spoilers, yo.
In some ways this story remains slightly off-kilter in terms of organization. It has three beats, three points of view. It should work just fine, but I find it off when I read it. Not in a way I want to fix. Just in a way I notice.
And yet, perhaps more acutely than any other, this story is exactly what I want it to be.
For a long time, this was the only book I’d ever written with a dedication. TTB is a love story about depression and the people who struggle with it. It’s also a love story about the people who struggle with them.
There’s a lot of give-and-take in relationships. It’s the stuff of real life and it’s the stuff of good fiction. No couple splits every chore perfectly in half; nothing is ever shared in even amounts, not responsibility, not finances, not emotions. I loved writing Truman as a man who feels no jealousy. He’s lovely and giving and has no qualms about Will, no qualms about Hugh’s continued desire for Will. He feels threatened by none of that. None of it destabilizes his relationship with Hugh.
And then there’s a moment when Lucy curls up in Hugh’s lap and he leans into her, and that’s when Truman has to look away. That cuts too close. I love messing with this stuff. Jealousy’s a crazy thing sometimes, and doesn’t always land in the most obvious place.
TTB also holds a special place in my heart for being the book in which Will and Truman begin to build a relationship alongside the one they have with Hugh. Mm, fucking delicious. I love writing fights, I love writing sex, and I love writing conspiracies. (And I madly adore writing toppyWill. That kid’s fuckin’ adorable.)
Act three takes us to Truman’s point of origin, and it’s mostly a whirlwind of Hugh’s insecurities and self defeat. Depression is an ugly fucking beast, and when it moves in, no matter how clever you are, or how well you understand it, it’s all-consuming. No thoughts come up clean, no amount of sleep refreshes. (This, of course, is how Hugh experiences it. It must be also how I experience it, since I slipped into second person there, which is a good sign I’ve just distanced myself from the text. Seriously, though, my mom’s a therapist, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before…)
The book doesn’t end with some great catharsis, some great resolution. At the end of it Hugh’s in general more functional, but not more happy, than he was at the beginning. And yet life goes on, he and Truman are certainly closer, and their relationship more defined. Truman’s not going to stand by and watch him self-destruct, and if that means invading his boundaries and ignoring his “don’t touch me” limits, that’s what’s gonna happen. If that means wielding Will as both scalpel and sledge hammer, he’ll do that too, and Hugh can take it or leave it.
Go on, then, Take Three Breaths. Favorite moments, favorite scenes, biggest annoyances? Throw it in the comments!