As Ian McEwan recognises in Atonement, authors often do terrible things to their characters, in the name of good writing. Rarely do they apologise. So here is my apology to one of my main characters, Annie.
Annie, I’m sorry.
I’ve betrayed you just as much as he has. More, because you told me your innermost thoughts and I didn’t let you in on what was happening with him until it was too late. I put you on what the natives call the roller coaster from hell, just to explore how it feels, just to watch it burn, just to try to sculpt the prose to do justice to this whole sorry mess.
I wanted to see what it felt like. Does that put me on a par with the gossip-ridden bitches I sent you out for coffee with? Maybe. But think about what we’re up against. The Notebook-esque idea that you jump in and tear apart a marriage if you feel like you have a prior claim; the supposed “glamour” of infidelity. We’ve got an ugly truth to tell. We’ve got a war to wage, Annie, and you’re my soldier.
You may not feel strong now, because I’ve put you in the dirt. Quite literally. You’ve got to spend at least part of a chapter face down in a flower bed.
But know this.
I want to grow you up again, make you strong, watch you fight back.
You know it’s worth fighting for.
Keep going. Please.