Illusion of Life - FINAL DRAFT | Skillshare Projects

Kristy Burnette

Writing without a Creative License



Illusion of Life - FINAL DRAFT


I chose the character of "Amelia Garrick" from "Spoon River Anthology." 


Yes, here I lie close to a stunted rose bush

In a forgotten place near the fence

Where the thickets from Siever's woods

Have crept over, growing sparsely.

And you, you are a leader in New York.

The wife of a noted millionaire,

A name in the society columns,

Beautiful, admired, magnified perhaps

By the mirage of distance.

You have succeeded, 

I have failed In the eyes of the world.

You are alive, I am dead.

Yet I know that I vanquished your spirit; 

And I know that lying here far from you,

Unheard of among your great friends

In the brilliant world where you move,

I am really the unconquerable power over your life

That robs it of complete triumph. 

When I first read it, it appeared Amelia had died a vengeful, embittered woman. I wanted to portray her as someone who was heartbroken instead of eager to break the hearts of others (no matter how much they had wronged her). I sewed in personal threads of myself, my clinical depression and Avoidant Personality Disorder, so I could understand and perhaps explain her. While my personal threads make Amelia more comfortable for me, they are perhaps more disturbing for a reader.  

Having recently come out of a near fatal depression, I relate to characters not as human tragedies, but as people who have experienced tragedy, either having learned from it or been destroyed by it. It's the individual's choice that makes the only difference.

I'll explain a little about what Avoidance is. Avoidants are highly misunderstood people who most people beyond the mental health field have never heard of. Chances are that someone may encounter an Avoidant in everyday life and never know the secret demons inside that seemingly "normal" individual, other than Avoidants usually come across as "shy," "inhibited," and maybe "spacy." They frequently are gentle souls. 

Because their hearts are always yearning for what they don't have and can't seem to attain, Avoidants usually suffer with chronic depression and are among the highest risk populations for suicide. They are life's lonely loners who are their own worst enemies. They claim they are life's lonesome losers, too, just like I have. 

To avoid the intimacy and "messiness" that accompany real life situations with real people, Avoidants frequently seek the unattainable; set impossible goals that can never be achieved; and suffer immensely through their self-imposed isolation from humanity. They feel intensely, right down to the holes in their embattled souls, yet feel invisible to others.

They dream of connecting to others who will show them compassionate understanding. Everywhere an Avoidant looks, he inevitably searches for a savior-figure. Too often they never find or connect with anyone because they are more afraid of risking rejection than they are of continuing to exist in self-perpetuating misery. Avoidants know what misery feels like. Misery is not a comforting companion, but its predictability is not threatening, either. 

While usually without a visible life to others (only a few Avoidants ever risk a loving relationship with another person except for a close relative, such as an understanding parent, like in my case), they enjoy - - and too often escape within - - a rich, creative imagination and fertile inner fantasy world that are so extraordinarily vivid, they feel like genuine life while lacking any basis in reality.

Avoidants' imaginations and the fantasy worlds that they spawn are Avoidants' solace within the only world that others see: the real or outer one. Unlike psychotics, Avoidants are fully aware their creative imaginings are simply that. They feel to the depths of their souls how empty their creative imaginings are without a fulfilling outer life to balance them. 

Because Avoidants feel so intensely and feel so invisible to others, I believe Amelia would perceive herself in death in the same tragic way that she had perceived herself in life, another painful thread of mine that I sewed in.  She found the solace in death that eluded her in life. She found her home among the dead and the dying, in a forgotten corner of the cemetery, the home she never found among the living who still had love to give. 

I am optimistic that someone who could have ended as a tragedy, like Amelia, could just as easily have found a catalyst that made her aware that she had only mistaken her inherent strength and healing for fatal flaws and weakness. I am a believer that anyone who looks for hope can find it. What matters is if someone who has been rejected, scarred and heartbroken by this world is still willing to look for hope in that same world that has rejected, scarred and heartbroken him.

My optimism comes from the few but cherished souls who have saved me over the years. While close to only a few, Avoidants offer the deepest, most loyal, intense, compassionate, and unconditional love that there is. When we love, we love ardently with every broken piece of ourselves and whatever else we can willingly give to another.

To be truly and unconditionally loved is to be loved by someone who suffers with Avoidance because our love is surely felt and known by the other person. Like a dear friend once told me that I'll cherish forever: "You're a sea of humanity in one small person." That's what Amelia was, too, if she had only had someone to make her believe it.  

Thank you for reading my story. 

Personal Misquote: Life is a series of unexpected events that is eventually cancelled when the lead star dies. - Leopold and Loeb 


Here is my final draft:

Here is my 7th draft:

Here is my 6th draft:

Here is my 5th draft with differences:

Here is my 4th draft with a different ending:

Here is my 3rd draft:

Here is my 2nd draft:

Here is my 1st draft:


A lonely, misunderstood woman's world threatens to fall apart when her fantasies collide with real life.  


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