I've felt for some time that I should write an account of what I had in mind in writing my series of Guiding Light fics. I'll post it online, for the sake of having it stored somewhere other than on my computer. And since I intend that, I'll give it a formal title, "Hold On to Light." That's a riff on Hold On to Love, the title of a cherished song that was once GL's theme music.
I certainly don't envision its containing anything I'd object to others' reading. But I'm writing it for myself, so I can reference it at a later date. A chronicle, perhaps, of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer at this stage of my life (still trying to improve!). What did I handle well, what not so well?
And truthfully, I'm finding that I can't move on to something else until I do this.
Out of My Dreams...
This fic tells my main story in its entirety; the five followups are, to borrow a musical term, grace notes. I've revised and hopefully improved it frequently - still tinkering, a year and a half after it was first posted! (About that posting date: I was shocked that no one had posted a Reva/Jeffrey reunion fic before then, at least at fanfiction dot net. As far as I know, I'm still the only writer who's dealt with this topic.)
I wrote in an "Author's Afterword":
I was a fan who could have accepted Reva's winding up with either Josh or Jeffrey, if the writing of the show's final months supported it. The writers hadn't been given enough notice of the cancellation to have Reva and Jeffrey break up, plausibly, without alienating fans of Jeffrey. But they could have had him really die - heroically, taking Edmund with him - and then had Reva reunite with Josh "One Year Later." [I wouldn't have thought of the possibility of jumping ahead in time, but the show's writers did think of it. I suspect, however, that they wanted to kill only one character - Alan, to symbolize a generational shift - and not end on a downbeat note with characters having to discuss another death.]
Instead, they chose to show viewers Reva's agonizing grief over Jeffrey's "death," then let us know he was still alive. By then I'm sure many fans were, like me, waiting with bated breath to see her shock - followed by ecstasy - when all was revealed, Edmund apprehended or killed, and her husband came back to her.
The outcome we saw was, in my opinion, unfair to Jeffrey, Reva, and Josh. If we imagine them - and innocent baby Colin - as real people, they were all being set up for undeserved anguish, months or years down the road.
When Reva and Jeffrey were last together, they'd been portrayed as deeply in love. And nothing had happened before the finale that could have changed that. With Jeffrey alive, a "happy ending" could only be one that reunited them.
So I wrote my own, in which I was constrained by two decisions I made at the outset: that I wouldn't contradict anything we'd actually seen (except the words "The End"), and that Reva and Jeffrey would be reunited before she'd made matters worse by having sex with Josh.
Not much "happens" in this story, in terms of plot. It can be summed up briefly: Reva and Josh leave Springfield, exactly as we saw in the aired finale. They almost immediately meet Jeffrey on the road. He and Reva reunite, and he explains that he's killed Edmund. In another brief "One Year Later" segment, we learn that Reva and Jeffrey are still together; he's once again DA; Josh is once again a minister; Olivia and Natalia are marrying; and an attraction seems to be developing between Jonathan and Ava.
Those are the bare bones of the plot. But I was attempting far more than that.
In the first two chapters of "Dreams," I tried to establish a different tone from that of the finale by exploring the thoughts of Reva, Shayne, and Jonathan on that fateful day "One Year Later." In a nutshell: They're all conflicted, all concerned about Edmund, but keeping their fears to themselves. Reva doesn't doubt that Jeffrey is dead; but her dreams and fantasies are still about him. She's troubled by the knowledge that while she does love Josh, she no longer loves him in the intense way he loves her. A major factor in her decision to go with him is her feeling that a boy needs a father figure in his life, and it would be wrong of her to deny Colin that because of her attachment to Jeffrey's memory. While I never spelled this out, I sought to create the impression that if she was thinking only of herself - not of any of her children - she would have chosen to stay alone with her memories of Jeffrey, and dreams and fantasies about him. The alternative, if she went with Josh, might have been to battle guilt feelings whether or not she often thought of Jeffrey. Either way, she might have imagined she was being disloyal...to someone.
And I made a decision that without actually denying anything in the show, I'd try to make this treatment of events more realistic. In particular, I'd ignore all GL's previous "returns from the dead" - which were, as with most soaps, so frequent that they were ludicrous. Those I can remember: Reva herself (twice!), Josh's first wife Sonni, Bill Bauer, Brandon Spaulding, Alan Spaulding, Phillip Spaulding (twice), Beth Raines Spaulding, Roger Thorpe, Buzz Cooper, Jonathan Randall, and (I think) Vanessa Chamberlain Lewis. There were undoubtedly more that I've forgotten, or was never aware of. I made a conscious choice to have characters react to Jeffrey's return as if they'd never experienced anything like it - to be just as shocked as we ourselves would be if a person thought dead turned up alive after more than a year.
Also in the interest of realism, I avoided any mention of the fictional country San Cristobal. Or did the show's producers really want it (mis)spelled "Cristobel"? Another reason not to mention it! Of course, it is sort of cool that they named a fictional country for a fictional saint. In a later fic, I gave a nod to it by having Frank think of Edmund as "the infamous prince."
Other concerns I had, about the overall shape of the story... I wanted Reva and Josh to encounter Jeffrey on the road. But if he was headed home, why hadn't he told Jonathan? I realized I'd need an explanation for his having lost touch with Jonathan. The only one I could think of was that Jonathan's cell phone provider had been bought out by a competitor, and he'd been forced to accept a new phone number, on such short notice that he couldn't give it to Jeffrey. Probably, in real life, that wouldn't matter. I'm guessing calls to the old number would be rerouted automatically, for months. But the situation is so unusual that I doubt many people would know for sure, any more than I do. I left open the possibility that villain Edmund, presumed to be wealthy, was responsible for the phone problem.
Also, the show itself never tells us whether all Reva's family and friends know about the decision she'll have to make. We learn that Billy knows. Reva confides in Olivia, with Natalia probably within earshot. And on the "day of decision," we learn that Jonathan knows. If he knows, it's a safe bet Shayne does. But otherwise, it's anyone's guess. So I chose to go with a scenario in which Reva hasn't told anyone else, and thinks Billy and his wife Vanessa, Olivia, and Natalia may have forgotten the date. In fact, quite a few people - I never pin it down - are aware of what's going on.
Another thing the show never tells us is when Reva makes up her mind. But on the critical day, it's clear neither Billy nor Jonathan knows what she's decided. And she's known all along that Billy, at least, was aware of Josh's plan. So if she'd made a firm decision before that day, she almost certainly would have told him. Why not?
Getting to specifics... I should mention that there are several instances in this fic where my brain tells me the wording isn't right, but some instinct has convinced me to leave it as is. It may be related to the way I imagine sentences being read aloud, and consider the "flow."
In Chapter 1:
"While the objects themselves didn't seem alarming, her immediate reaction was terror." ... Perhaps it should be: "The objects themselves didn't seem alarming. But her immediate reaction was terror." That would be stronger. I haven't been able to bring myself to change it, though, because a sentence in the paragraph that precedes it begins with "But."
"If it had only been the photo" ... Grammatically, it should be "If it had been only the photo." But I'm leaving it as is, partly for the sake of the "flow," and partly because it's in Reva's thoughts (albeit indirectly), and the first wording is more in line with the way people think.
"At last she came back and sat, shakily, on the bed." ... Here, it probably should be "she went back." But I just can't help feeling that "came" is better!
"She got out of bed, kissed Colin - without waking him yet - and began her normal morning routine." ... Ouch! I belatedly realized a toddler would be in a crib, and an adult would have to either lower a drop-down side, or reach down into the crib, to touch him. And she could hardly pick him up without waking him. But I'm not willing to change the sentence. I've decided to imagine her "kissing Colin" by kissing her fingers, then reaching down and gently touching his cheek.
In Chapter 2:
I have Jonathan thinking of toddler Henry's "blood disorder," whereas elsewhere, I've just mentioned his having a rare blood type. I've decided to let that stand - assuming there is some kind of "disorder" (if only anemia), and that can be taken for granted when Reva and Shayne attach so much importance to blood type and to Shayne's being a match.
Chapter 1, A Dream Dispelled... The opening dream? That was one of the scenarios I'd fantasized about, a way Jeffrey might actually come back. But it works much better as a dream. An "it was all a dream" sequence would be a cheat if Reva wasn't really going to be reunited with him. But in this story, she will be.
A reader may or may not guess from this sequence that when I wrote it, I thought the house was all on one floor. Later, I learned it has both a second floor and a basement. Despite its being a former Lewis family "cabin," moved from Oklahoma to Springfield for sentimental reasons! Some "cabin." Of course, the Lewises are wealthy...
I think this is a very good opening, a way to create immediate interest and excitement. Ideally, when it turns out to be a dream, readers will still be hooked because they'll feel Reva's pain. I'm pleased with that section, too.
I'm proud of the long sequence in which she tries to organize her thoughts and reach a decision. Some readers might find it boring. But every sentence is important. There's nothing repetitious, no unnecessary verbiage. And I think it truly is "organized," each consideration (e.g., the impact of her choice on Jonathan) given its due before she moves on to the next. People may not really think that neatly; but here, it's "realism be hanged." Good writing should be succinct!
Reva feels almost guilty about still caring so much for Jeffrey, to whom she'd been married for less than a year. She thinks it's a situation in which a person should be expected to move on, and she'll be seen as behaving strangely if she can't. But I'll establish in a later fic that Josh is fully aware of the uniqueness of this case, and expects that even if they remarry, Jeffrey will be a "third person in the bed with them" for the rest of their lives.
Chapter 2, Doubt, Distress, Decision... I'm proud of this, too. I think Shayne's and Jonathan's very different worries ring true...and would surprise a reader. Especially interesting, in my humble opinion? How far off the mark Reva's assumptions were! She'd thought she knew what both sons would want: Shayne would want her to go with Josh, and Jonathan would want her to turn him down. In fact, different though their concerns were, neither of them would have been able to pick one choice over the other.
The business about Shayne's not having "bonded" with Reva? I admit it's hard to believe that if he regretted what he'd said, he would have waited more than a year to tell her. But it worked for my story. And I'd been shocked by his saying such a thing to his mother; that's why it stuck in my mind! So I used a bit of dramatic license. I'm sorry I couldn't work in a scene in which he actually did apologize, and assure her the "bond" was firmly in place. I hope the affectionate way she thinks of him in the last section ("bless him") will assure readers that any problems have been ironed out.
I wasn't watching the show when Shayne and Marina were first a couple. I read in Soap Opera Digest that they'd lost their virginity to each other; I assume that's correct.
I realize I wrote Sarah a little older than she appeared to be in the show. They'd used the same child in the "One Year Later" segment whom they'd used before. In a realistic portrayal, she should have been a year older. So I imagined her as being 4; but I have no experience with 4-year-olds. I may have made her too assertive about what she wanted - and her "washing the few dishes she'd used" may not be believable. She is, however, so minor a character in the story that my portrayal of her is within acceptable limits.
In the third section of this chapter, I had to express my opinion of that awful green dress! For all I know, Kim Zimmer may have loved it, and thousands of her fans may be aware she loved it. (But if that's the case, Kim needs her eyes examined.) Hating the dress as I did, I think I made good story use of it. I make another, hopefully surprising, use of it in the later fic "The View From the Lighthouse Steps." And I'm pleased with the way I ended this chapter. In the finale, I couldn't see whether Reva was still wearing a wedding ring; the director may have chosen camera angles that would leave it in doubt.
Chapter 3, Dreams Can Come True... I'm pleased with this one, too - more so now, after some tinkering, than when I first wrote it.
I think the show's producers went too far in aging Colin for these scenes. The child they used looked - at least to me - more like a 3-year-old than the 17-month-old he should have been. (I took the date to be Sept. 18, 2010.) I tried to write him as a 17-month-old.
I initially misremembered the finale, and thought they'd put Colin in a proper car seat in the "back seat" of the truck. I later realized there was no "back seat," and Colin was just stuck in between Josh and Reva in the cab - almost certainly not in a car seat of any kind. That may have been why they used an older child. But even the one they used should have been in a car seat! I changed my opening to make clear where he was, and included an excuse for their thinking he'd be safe without a car seat.
I'm sure I improved this chapter when I added the bit about Reva's being "mortified" when she has to admit that she'd thought she'd seen Jeffrey, and the lines that follow (her assuming Josh will take her home now, and grieving because she's "ruined everything for Colin").
I had a strange sense of deja vu when I wrote that she couldn't bring herself to say something aloud, followed by: "Couldn't say anything. All that came out was an undignified hiccup." I looked through many of my fics, and couldn't find where I'd used the "undignified hiccup." I hope I wasn't unintentionally plagiarizing someone else. [I did later find "undignified hiccup" in my Carnivale fic "Rape." But only those two words were the same, not the preceding ones.] I had a similar feeling of deja vu when I wrote a sentence in "The View From the Lighthouse Steps." Could I have pre-experienced writing those passages in my sleep? Gone forward along my timeline in, for want of a better term, my astral body?
I'm glad I thought of having Reva produce both their wedding rings, and tell Jeffrey she'd meant to keep wearing them on that chain around her neck. Glad, too, that I'd laid some groundwork for it in the previous chapter, by mentioning her pendant. I'm also glad the song Out of My Dreams has an appropriate last line!
Chapter 4, Denouement... From a literary point of view, this chapter is the most problematic. Strictly in terms of effective, gripping writing, I should have kept it brief. Half the length it is! But here's where my desire for realism kicked in. Soap operas, written in haste, tend to leave questions unanswered - and often unanswerable, in any plausible way. I was determined to avoid that - to use the approach of a show like CSI, where every t has to be crossed and every i dotted.
Here's an example of an explanation GL should have provided, and didn't. Reva and Josh were told the body of an adult male could be seen in Jeffrey's submerged plane, but it couldn't safely be brought up. Jeffrey had supposedly been alone, so the body was assumed to be his. Later, viewers were allowed to see that he'd survived. But I don't remember there being any explanation of the body. It could only have been mentioned in conversation between Jeffrey and Jonathan, and I don't think I missed anything. Even though the writers meant to let Reva go on believing Jeffrey was dead, they should have given viewers an explanation of that dead body.
Yes, I provided one. And I went to great lengths to explain, for example, actions of Jeffrey's in a way that would make them seem reasonable. Here's my justification for his having taken what some apparently saw as a ridiculous threat seriously:
First, he explained what had happened after he survived the plane crash. How Edmund had learned he was alive, and teamed with Jonathan. And then, the threats Edmund had made: first, that he'd kidnap and raise Colin, Sarah, and Henry if he thought Reva had learned the truth, and later, that he'd kill them.
"My God," Reva whispered. By now she was holding her husband's hand. After a few moments' thought, she said, "Of course you couldn't tell me. With his wealth, he really could have had spies anywhere, bugs planted anywhere. If someone mentioned you in a public place like Company, and the wrong expression came over my face, just for an instant..." She shuddered. "I would have been a wreck. And if I never went out, that would have been suspicious in itself."
Jeffrey nodded. "Yes," he said grimly. "And there was another possibility I had to think of. What if the bastard did order an attack on the children, out of sheer sadism? If you'd known the truth, you'd blame yourself - imagine you'd given something away, even if you hadn't.
"From a distance, I couldn't protect the children. But by truly keeping you in the dark, I could at least deny him that way of torturing you."
He hesitated, then continued, "Actually, there was something else I could have done. He'd given us a tape recording of his first threat, a note containing the later one. So I finally had evidence he was alive! I could have surfaced, gone public with the whole thing. Then I could have come home...let law enforcement go after him...gotten police protection for everyone he'd threatened.
"But you know what they say about a wounded animal being the most dangerous. With his resources, Edmund would have been extremely dangerous. If I'd taken that action to thwart him, he might have struck out and killed more people, in hopes of including his intended targets. One possibility I thought of was that he might have his agents poison Springfield's water supply. And there were bound to be other possibilities I wouldn't think of.
"I'm sure he knew what he was doing when he presented me with that dilemma. He was daring me to take the risk.
"And as he'd foreseen, I had to give in, and let him have the sick game he wanted. A long, dragged-out fight to the death between the two of us...with you thinking me already dead."
Even now, I'm wondering whether I should include a recap of what happened with Jonathan, for the benefit of any potential readers who didn't see or don't remember it. I just wrote the recap:
When Jeffrey came to in Jonathan's shack, Jonathan had explained why he was hiding out in such a remote place. Edmund had located him, communicated with him, and brazenly announced his intention of kidnapping and raising Sarah. Jeffrey had then made the fateful decision to patch up his own injuries (which were relatively minor), and take advantage of his enemy's thinking he was dead. He'd stay "dead" a little while longer and set a trap for Edmund, who wouldn't be prepared for Jonathan's having a tough, experienced ally.
In a sparsely populated neighborhood, at an hour when no innocents were likely to be in harm's way, they'd made it appear Jonathan was briefly leaving Sarah alone in his parked car. The "bait" in the car was actually a large doll. When Edmund stealthily approached, Jeffrey caught him by surprise, trained a gun on him, and tried to make a citizen's arrest. By then Jonathan, also armed, was prepared to fire if necessary from behind a barricade. But Edmund whipped out his own gun and started shooting, forcing Jeffrey to dive for cover. A car with darkened windows came hurtling out of nowhere, and Edmund leapt into it and escaped.
But I think what I've already posted is long enough. More than long enough!
About viewers' not remembering things... Obviously, a long-running soap opera isn't like another of my obsessions, Carnivale. That had a total of 24 episodes, making it easy for a fan writer to consult DVDs. When I first posted this fic, I'd forgotten all about North Carolina, thought Jeffrey's plane had gone down off the coast of Florida! I eventually discovered the GL episode synopses archived at soapcentral dot com, which helped a lot. But I'm still confused about some points, even in parts of the show I know I saw.
In this chapter, I'm pleased with the way I organized sections and segued from one topic to another. I think issues are addressed in the proper order.
But here's one of the problems caused by my concern about what readers might or might not remember. I'd had Jeffrey say to Reva and Josh, "After I survived the plane crash in North Carolina..." Recently, I began to fear that might not be clear enough. I'd mentioned, a few sentences further on, the body that couldn't be "brought up." So I changed this passage to read, "After I survived the plane crash off the North Carolina coast, and got to shore..." Clearer, yes. But now it's even more obvious that Jeffrey is telling his actual "audience," Reva and Josh, things they already know.
I have reservations about my handling of the section about Edmund's attempt to frame Reva for the killing of his double. It became much longer than I'd intended - "grew like Topsy"!
I don't know whether the show ever suggested that Edmund had meant to kill his double and frame Reva even if he'd succeeded in kidnapping Henry. If that was purely my own idea, I think it's a good one. But it's pretty obvious.
I'm unsure on a good many points here - such as whether it was Edmund or Dinah who killed "John Doe." In my universe, at least, it was Edmund; and he'd done it after the guy had saved his life.
I'm even more unsure who ordered that cremation. Reva had meant to do something with Edmund's remains - I know she'd gotten herself acknowledged as the "closest thing to a relative" in Springfield. (Jonathan, of course, wasn't there at the time.) But I think she probably intended to have the body shipped back to San Cristobal, and that plan was thwarted by someone who'd accepted a bribe.
Still, I'm not sure. Jeffrey's suspicions, and their arguments, were real. So I decided I'd make her the person responsible for the cremation, so as not to leave an unidentified ally of Edmund's still at large in Springfield.
The main problem I have with the climax - Jeffrey's story of how he killed Edmund - is that it might have been better written as a flashback, rather than having him narrate it. Here again, part of my defense is that it kept growing, becoming a longer sequence than I'd initially envisioned. Also, I'd intended this entire fic, save for Shayne's and Jonathan's brief sections, to be in Reva's point of view. Would having Jeffrey's narrative turn into a flashback necessitate his being the viewpoint character? For how much of the chapter? On balance, I think it's okay as is.
The showdown with Edmund is, of course, my invention. I decided to have it take place in Nicaragua because a juvenile adventure novel I'd read as a child was set in a Nicaraguan jungle. (A happy coincidence: a t-shirt I later bought, showing Reva, is labeled "Made in Nicaragua"!)
Once again, I was striving for realism: seeking a good explanation for Jeffrey's having, in the past, missed clear shots at Edmund. (I'd read a joking reference to his being a terrible shot.) The real explanation, of course, was that the writers needed their villain still to be alive and at large! But I came up with a "good" explanation: bulletproof vests.
Jeffrey's explanation of why, after he'd gotten out of the jungle, he couldn't let his loved ones know by phone that he was alive? It doesn't hold up under close scrutiny. There were things he could have told Reva that no one but the two of them would know, but she might have thought she was losing her mind. Shayne wouldn't have been in danger of thinking that, but he and Jeffrey weren't particularly close; they wouldn't have shared any secrets that could prove the caller wasn't an impostor. There was, however, another person Jeffrey could have called: Josh! Josh would surely have been convinced if he'd told him, "The last thing you said to me was 'Bring him (Edmund) back in handcuffs.' "
Here's my way around it. In my later fic "Strangers On a Plane," Jeffrey realizes that until then - on his way home - he's been in denial about the possibility that after all this time, he may have lost Reva to Josh. I'll postulate that the denial went so far as to keep him from thinking of Josh at all, even as a friend he might contact.
I'm happy with the last sections of this fic - the reappearance of the box of nails from Reva's dream, and my own "One Year Later" segment. From the time I learned the show had been cancelled, I'd hoped it would end with Josh having returned to the ministry...to come full circle, because it had begun as a series about a minister.
I had what I think was the good idea of pairing Jonathan and Ava because both these young people have had to cope with horrific losses, and find the strength to go on with their lives. Jonathan's first love, his wife Tammy, was killed in the course of a bungled attempt on Jonathan's own life, ordered by the late Alan Spaulding. Ava gave birth to a son, Max, who died in infancy. Both the men who were in her life at that time, Remy Boudreau (the baby's father) and Bill Lewis, have moved on and have happy marriages. Ava should be older than Jonathan, but I'm imagining the age difference as only six or seven years - irrelevant, at this point in their lives.
As a nod to the conventions of the genre, I did drop a few details of the characters' "soapy" history into the mix. I mentioned that Reva had "unintentionally deserted" Shayne and Jonathan...that she's old enough to be her baby son's great-grandmother, having a granddaughter in college...and that Jeffrey is a surgically-created double for one Richard Winslow (identified only as being deceased).
I had two purposes in writing this fic. One was to address criticism I'd seen - that it had been completely wrongheaded for GL to show one of its intended heroes "hunting" an adversary, sniping from a rooftop. I dealt with that by mentioning Jeffrey's having first tried to make a citizen's arrest of Edmund in North Carolina, and putting my own spin on it. The "hunt" that placed Jeffrey himself in so much danger was necessary; but it wouldn't have been, if he'd "acted like a thug" in North Carolina.
About that danger... This story provides more detail about what happened in Nicaragua. Jeffrey's ordeal was worse than he'd implied when he first described it to Reva and Josh. And he'd had to cope with a language barrier; the Central American Indians who'd helped him, to the best of their ability, didn't understand either English or Spanish.
The main purpose of this fic, however, was to show a reunion of lovers who aren't kids, who have to battle middle-aged fears and feelings of insecurity.
Really, the whole problem is that Jeffrey is physically debilitated...and knows how old he is (51, I'm guessing). He'd actually performed just as well, in "skilled-operative" mode, as he would have when he was twenty years younger. If he'd been in his early thirties, he would have laughed off the fatigue he's experiencing now, along with the aches and pains. He would even have laughed off any temporary impotence, sure he'd be okay after a good night's sleep. But knowing he's in his early fifties, he's a mess.
Poor Reva is a mess, too. (She's 55.) She's frightened when he doesn't initiate sex quickly, once they're in the shower or in bed together. To get this out in the open, more bluntly than I would in a fanfic: Reva is overweight. In my fictional universe, she's overweight because when she endured one illness after another, doctors hounded her to keep her weight up, and she overdid it. But the weight itself can't be the problem: this man was passionately in love with her 14 or 15 months ago, liked her middle-aged body just fine, and she hasn't changed significantly since then. And it's not that he'd forgotten their love while he was away: he'd hugged, kissed, and groped her passionately after they met on the road.
Before she'd actually taken her clothes off...
She conceives the notion that while they were apart, he'd clung to some "idealized image" of her. And now, she won't be able to measure up.
The truth, of course, is simply that he was running on adrenalin earlier in the day...and it's worn off.
But they talk. They figure out what the problem is, rediscover their closeness. And when they relax, and agree that their having or not having sex doesn't matter...it comes.
And they are two kids again, at least for this night. Kids having a blast!
"Homecoming" was written and posted soon after "Out of My Dreams"; I didn't think there'd be any more. But months later, I felt compelled to write four additional fics. They were written and posted in the order in which I conceived them...and it's a sequence that feels right, with (IMHO!) a perfect ending.
Surface With a Splash...
I had three purposes in writing this fic. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Reva had been, almost exclusively, my viewpoint character in the first two fics. I thought it would be interesting to see how a different character, an "outsider," would view the goings-on with her and Jeffrey during - as it turned out - the next day and a half.
2. I'd always been annoyed by everyone in the finale's seeming to have forgotten about the threat from Edmund. So I thought I should write something that would, at least, explain it - actually spell out the idea that most of the community had come to believe Dinah had killed the real Edmund.
3. I'd indicated Jeffrey would be DA again a year after his return...but could I justify that? If he'd come back to town in mid-September, in less than robust health, could he plausibly mount a campaign and win a November election? Would there even be a race for DA that year? How did Springfield choose its DAs, anyway? Having installed him in office (grins), I had to figure out how he'd gotten there!
Obviously, I made Frank my viewpoint character. I think that worked very well.
And I was able, succinctly, to make my point about what the community believed:
For his part, Frank was no longer sure what to believe about the infamous prince.
He knew Marina, the Lewises, and presumably Reva and her son Jonathan, still believed Edmund was alive. He'd murdered the heroic Jeffrey; and now, he or his agents could be anywhere.
But by now, almost everyone else had concluded that Dinah Marler had killed the real Edmund. And yes, tried to frame Reva, in the belief Jeffrey's influence in high places would prevent his wife's ever standing trial. She'd played along with Jeffrey's fugitive hunt, so he wouldn't suspect she knew for a fact that his theory was wrong. And he'd wound up dying - tragically - in an accident, in the course of a wild-goose chase Edmund's killer had knowingly let him embark on.
No one doubted that Jeffrey had traveled from Bosnia to Argentina and Florida, and then headed for North Carolina, because he thought he was trailing Edmund. But someone who's willing to pay for leads always risks being given false information. Dinah claimed they'd tricked Edmund into surfacing briefly in Bosnia, and they'd actually seen him; but no one in Springfield had heard that from Jeffrey. It was just a claim made by Deceitful Dinah, after Jeffrey's plane had gone down and it was a safe bet he'd never be able to contradict her.
But I had to do a lot of research to get Jeffrey into the DA's office. And I'm still not sure I haven't violated canon.
I wasn't watching the show when he first became DA. I'd quit watching it in 1998, because I saw the clone storyline as an unforgivable insult to viewers' intelligence. I only resumed watching in January 2009. And then I had a devil of a time trying to figure out what Jeffrey's job was! At some point, I grasped that he either was or had been DA.
I learned, of course, that he had a background in covert ops - and in that capacity, had been a surgically-created double for the late Prince Richard Winslow. I was told that in some GL forum. And I think the person who answered my question said it had been established that he'd been badly injured or wounded, and needed reconstructive surgery in any case.
Before writing this fic, I read enough episode synopses to become convinced that he must have left the DA's office to accept a position offered him by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. But the timing, and the nature of his job, were still as clear as mud.
I'd assumed the position of DA was always elective, everywhere. But the episode synopses seemed to be saying that when Jeffrey became DA, it involved his accepting an appointment he'd been offered. To replace an elected official who'd been removed from office for some reason? Or was the position always filled by appointment? I couldn't find answers...but the appointment came soon after the election of a new mayor, Doris Wolfe.
I consulted Wikipedia, and learned that DAs can indeed be appointed. In some states, the whole state has to fill these positions the same way, be it by election or appointment. But in others, the manner of filling them can be determined at the county level. Appointment by a city mayor? Well, I wasn't sure who'd offered Jeffrey the job; perhaps the county executive was elected at the same time as Springfield's mayor. Or perhaps, in their county, the mayor of the county seat always doubled as county executive.
For this fic, I decided to assume Springfield's DA had always been appointed. Now that had changed - the county had voted to make the position elective. So a new DA was being chosen in November 2010. Jeffrey wouldn't have been in town in time to file as a candidate; and he wasn't in good enough health for active campaigning, anyway. But when he "surfaced with a splash," he certainly could be elected as a write-in! And voters would have learned enough to be confident that by the time he was sworn in, he'd be physically able to serve.
The ending of this fic... Colin has "golden curls" because we got a glimpse of them in the finale. And Jeffrey's "That's the plan" line is the last thing he said to Jonathan in their telephone conversation in the next-to-last episode. I've always thought of GL as having a two-episode finale, because both episodes - barring the "One Year Later" segment - take place on the same day.
The View From the Lighthouse Steps...
In this fic, Josh is the viewpoint character. I had two goals: to establish what happened after Reva fainted on seeing Jeffrey, and to show how Josh reacted to all this. I'm a fan who liked all these characters, and I think my writing reflects that.
Chapter 1, The Steps... I think the show's writers made a bad mistake in not having Josh assure Reva, at the outset, that his invitation to her included Colin. An oversight like that seems out of character for Josh. But since the "oversight" was in the show, I felt I had to mention it.
I allowed a few more "soap suds" here. Mentioned Josh having married Reva's sister, and Reva having married his brother and father. Also, her having been married to Buzz Cooper - these marriages add up, and the mere number of them would be unusual in real life.
Josh's belief that Reva only became romantically involved with Jeffrey because he'd married her sister Cassie? I wasn't watching the show at that time. But I've read online that Kim Zimmer has said she pressed for a Reva/Jeffrey relationship because the writers had paired Josh with Cassie.
In part, Kim may have been concerned about her character's being "backburnered." It may have been about the same time as something else I've read. She told the producers that if they wanted Reva to become just a supporting character, that was fine...but they'd have to get someone else to play her, because she needed to work more!
That may not, however, be the whole story. The longtime portrayer of Cassie had left the show, and the role had been recast. Kim argued that sisters Reva and Cassie had become so close that Cassie never would have "stolen Reva's man." The new actress couldn't have been expected to complain about the scripts; she had no way of knowing the material was out of character. But while it would be hard for viewers to accept a new Cassie in any case, the writers were making it harder by having her do something the "real" Cassie never would have done.
The bottom line here is the same: Kim pressed for a new relationship for her character because she was unhappy with the direction the show was going. But her unhappiness may have involved more than just the prospect of being "backburnered."
Getting back to my justification for Josh's thoughts... I'm not sure whether Jeffrey actually postponed his wedding to Reva several times. But in the synopses, it seemed Josh was always getting on him about his not wanting to go through with the wedding. I decided that even if there hadn't been any real postponements, Josh would have convinced himself there were some.
I'm very happy with my writing here. The ideas, and the actual quality of writing.
In this chapter and the next, I establish that on this fateful day in the characters' lives, Josh is just as burdened by thoughts of Jeffrey as is Reva. Perhaps even more so. And she never suspects it.
As I indicated in my discussion of "Dreams," there's irony here. Reva feels guilty because she can't stop thinking of Jeffrey - takes for granted she's "supposed to" be able to move on after such a short marriage. But Josh has the opposite view, believing that - given all the circumstances - he should expect her still to be in love with Jeffrey, perhaps for the rest of her life.
I'm very happy with the inspiration I had, to make Josh react totally differently to Reva's ugly dress! I'm telling myself, by the way, that she bought the thing because a female friend, trying to cheer her up, had persuaded her to go on a daylong shopping trip, then insisted this dress looked good on her. Thinking she might be too depressed to trust her own judgment, she bought it - mostly to satisfy her friend.
More seriously, this suggestion that Reva might be some sort of "goddess" foreshadows what we'll learn about her name in "Strangers On a Plane." Coincidence? Or is anything, ever, a mere "coincidence"?
Chapter 2, The Road... I'm very happy with this.
It was at this point in my storytelling that I realized Jeffrey's guitar should be important. The mention of it here foreshadows the use I'll make of it in "Reach Out and Touch."
One bit of a problem with my writing... Here, I felt I had to have Josh think of the other driver's not crashing into him as "evidence of sanity." But in the next paragraph, he calls him a "nutcase." That was dialogue from "Out of My Dreams," and I didn't want to change it (though I could have, in both fics). I try to convince myself the unthinking use of a term like "nutcase" is meaningless, and doesn't conflict with what's gone before.
[A later note: I finally deleted the "evidence of sanity" sentence. The simplest solution to a problem that kept bugging me!]
My portrayal of Jeffrey... Considering the state he's in, physically and emotionally, I think it's understandable that he could come very close to having a complete "meltdown." But of course - being one of the heroes - he manages to pull himself together.
This is the passage about which I had the sense of deja vu:
"I can't. I injured my back a few months ago, and I don't think I could lift any adult right now. If I tried, and we both went down in a heap, she might get hurt. Dammit!"
Here, even more than with the few words in an earlier fic, I had an eerie sense of having already written it. Weird!
Chapter 3, Atop All the Steps... I love this, too.
On a light note, I couldn't resist having a character think, "Time for me to get out of Dodge." I love that line, because it reminds me of a context in which I once saw it, that was unintentionally hilarious. It was in a fanfic - in another fandom, not this one. To begin with, the character thought about the desirability of his "getting out of dodge." That in itself suggested that the author didn't understand where the expression came from. But on top of that, the character needing to "get out of dodge" was actually in...ancient Greece! (And no, he wasn't a time traveler.)
Thoughts about the lake... I want to believe it's one of the Great Lakes, with Canada on the opposite shore. I was tempted to have Josh reflect that while this body of water isn't the Atlantic, another country does lie beyond it, and that makes him think of the distance from which baby Henry had to come to wind up in Springfield. But I decided that in my universe, I'd prefer not to establish even that much about Springfield's location.
By the time the show ended, the producers wanted viewers to think of its "Springfield" as being in Illinois. A fan vote had decided it at some point. I've read that in the finale, James Spaulding's car had Illinois plates. (But I tried to read what was on those plates, and couldn't. I probably wasn't alone.) The "Springfield Township" sign in the opening titles belonged to a community in New Jersey; but the real Springfield, Illinois has a suburb that was once known by that name, so city residents could, not implausibly, drive by such a sign.
But I'm unhappy with that choice. Springfield, Illinois is the state capital; I think long-ago episodes indicated that GL's Springfield wasn't the capital of whatever state it was in. More significantly: Springfield, Illinois has a lake - with the unimaginative name "Lake Springfield" - that's used for recreation and boating. But according to Wikipedia, it's an "artificial lake," owned by a power company. It was created in part to serve as the city's source of drinking water. Hardly a place anyone would be scattering cremated remains! Even if Edmund's ashes were, like Alan's, scattered on the beach, some could have blown into the water. Moreover, I can't imagine a lighthouse ever having been deemed necessary. Rightly or wrongly, I can only picture a once-functional lighthouse on the shore of one of the Great Lakes (or, of course, an ocean).
There is a "Springfield Township" in the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania. It's probably near - perhaps even on the coast of - Lake Erie. It's too small a community to match up demographically with GL's Springfield, and I have no reason to think it has a lighthouse. But I still prefer to think of that, geographically, as the show's location. It's better than imagining Illinois has two separate cities named Springfield!
Getting back to my fanfic... My "what-if" speculations are, in part, a dig at the show's writers for having left the characters in a situation with so much potential for heartbreak.
Some of the "what-ifs" might have been developed more. Perhaps my writing could have been better. But I wasn't sure how far I should go. Might a Josh who hadn't "found Joshua" have morphed into another Roger Thorpe - actually tried to kidnap Reva and/or Colin? Probably not, but I wouldn't rule it out...
I tried to show Josh displaying enough religious feeling to hint at his destined return to the ministry. And I'm very pleased with his final thoughts about Reva. The song he thinks of - We Belong Together - is the one we heard throughout the closing shots of the TV finale.
Strangers On a Plane...
Here again, I had two main purposes in mind. I wanted, finally, to write a fic in which Jeffrey would be the viewpoint character. And I also wanted to bring back one of my favorite characters from the past...Kyle Sampson.
First, I'll discuss what I did with Jeffrey - not his interaction with Kyle aboard the plane, but my account of his struggle to get to Managua. I realize now that I had the same problem here as with his showdown with Edmund in "Dreams." In both cases, what I chose to write, I wrote well. But it would have been better (and, not so incidentally, harder) to write vivid descriptions of the events as they were taking place, rather than bloodless after-the-fact narratives. That's something I'll have to work on in the future.
Nevertheless, I think I made my point: Jeffrey's been through an ordeal that would have killed most men, and it took all his strength, skills, and yearning for Reva to keep him alive.
His tortured thoughts on the plane... Here, I wanted to let the reader know what he planned to do when he reached Springfield. And also, to show that he'd come up with a couple ideas about Jonathan that had at least helped keep him sane. (Ironically, neither of his theories to explain their loss of contact was as simple as the truth.) But I also wanted to convey the horror he felt when he thought - quite plausibly - that Edmund might have had all the children kidnapped, and his killing Edmund might have cost the family any chance of learning what had become of them.
Beyond that, I planted a hint in this fic that he has more guilt feelings about Jonathan than I have, thus far, spelled out.
At this point, I'll shift to discussing Kyle Sampson...
All those years ago (mid-1980s), I was rooting for Reva and Kyle. Kim and Larkin Malloy appeared together at what was then my favorite mall - they attracted a huge crowd, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Much as I've always loved Josh, I hated seeing Reva's story with Kyle end.
I was left with the impression - wrong, I think now - that Kyle was still alive somewhere, in an "irreversible" coma.
After we learned GL was being cancelled, I was in a forum where the question was being posed, what characters would we most like to see return before the end? I realized that the only past character I wanted to see was Kyle Sampson.
But someone told me he was officially "dead." The basis for that was said to be a script in which Billy had told Josh, "You're the only living brother I have now."
Of course, "death" in soaps isn't all that permanent (grins). But still, I pretty much gave up hope of seeing him again.
It was only in that forum discussion that I learned (I assume it's correct) that Kyle's father, Cardinal Malone, had died in the plane crash that left Kyle comatose. And while I'd always known Kyle's pregnant fiancee had died, it was only then I learned that she was the "Janet" who'd been involved with Ed Bauer, and later had an unhappy marriage to Holly's brother Ken.
Many years ago, I had my own fantasy scenario for what happened to Reva after she drove off that never-to-be-forgotten bridge. If I'd known there was such a thing as fan fiction, I would have begun writing it then. In my fantasy, Reva regained her senses somewhere, but couldn't bring herself to go home because she'd caused the accident that had left Samantha Marler - the girl her son Dylan loved - paralyzed. Instead, she went to Rome to pour out her heart to Cardinal Malone (who I thought was still alive). She found him caring for a semi-comatose Kyle...and she blamed herself for Kyle's condition, too. She stayed in Rome, nursed Kyle back to health, realized he was the man she truly loved. And then he shattered her world by announcing he'd decided to become a priest!
All that was long ago. But in writing this fic, I couldn't resist "resurrecting" Kyle, and bringing him back as...a priest.
When I decided to have back-from-the-dead Jeffrey cross paths with back-from-the-dead Kyle, I had to accept that this fic would be more "soapy" than my others. But I think I handled it well.
I stretched a bit to have Kyle describe Josh as always having been prepared to "swoop in" when Reva broke up with someone else. Would he have seen it as a pattern, that long ago? Perhaps not. But it's a minor rewriting of history, at worst. Josh certainly had "swooped in" when she became disillusioned with Kyle!
Both Jeffrey and Kyle learn something of value from their encounter.
Jeffrey's eyes are opened to a possible threat he's been denying - that he may have lost Reva to Josh. He couldn't have coped with recognizing it before now. But at this point, he can. And he has time to prepare himself, so he'll comport himself well - have the strength to think first and foremost of her feelings - when he briefly thinks he has lost her. She would have turned to him in any case; but his behaving as he does will win him her respect, and Josh's. Most important: he'll be able to respect himself.
Kyle realizes he's been right, in leaning more and more toward the conclusion that he shouldn't be a priest. The feelings suddenly reawakened in him - feelings for Reva - drive him to acknowledge that truth. But he'll learn she is still with "Jeff." And he'll respect that, especially since he knows there's a baby in the picture.
It was only after I posted this fic that I realized I'd created a "mirror image." Kyle will be leaving the clergy just as his long-ago rival, Josh, is returning to it!
And on the topic of religion... Yes, the name "Reva" is that of a Hindu goddess. Which should make the reader wonder whether Josh really did see something out of the ordinary near the lighthouse that day...
Reach Out and Touch...
I'm pleased with all these fics, but this may be my favorite. There are two chapters, with Reva and Jeffrey each being the viewpoint character for one of them. Each chapter opens with the same relevant quote from that beloved former theme song, Hold On to Love.
I had two purposes in writing this.
First, I wanted to show that neither Reva nor Jeffrey could snap back to normal as quickly as they'd expected, after all they'd been through. If they didn't have each other, they'd both require treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But they're strong individuals, a strong couple. And for each of them, having the other's support when needed is enough.
I'd also thought of reasons why both of them would be troubled by guilt feelings. For Reva, it's her having let searchers quit looking for Jeffrey along the North Carolina coast; she now knows a discredited witness really had seen him. For Jeffrey, it's his having tricked Edmund into surfacing briefly in Bosnia by making him think his dead daughter was alive; he believes that led Edmund to target Jonathan and Sarah. Reva's son and granddaughter could have been killed!
I'm not sure whether I've violated any canon here. I went with certain assumptions: that neither Jeffrey nor Reva had known Jonathan was in North Carolina; that Jeffrey hadn't known why Edmund was going there; and that Alan had never succeeded in locating Jonathan. I may be in error on some or all of those points. But if I am, I suspect very few readers would realize it.
Reva and Jeffrey have separate, frightening crises...and help each other through them. (Jeffrey's beloved guitar provides some happy moments.) They both confess the mistakes they so regret. And each of them assures the other they did nothing wrong.
They wind up, relaxed and happy, adjourning to "the most romantic spot in the world"...their kitchen floor. Where Jeffrey - supposedly on a wacky impulse - had made passionate love to Reva before leaving, ostensibly, to buy those famous nails.
Fortunately, they've done the deed - again - before the baby monitor reminds them they're not alone!