Whenever I've written a piece of fiction, I've discovered after completing it that there is meaning in it which I didn't consciously intend. Often that meaning reflects a belief that I didn't even know I held. After finishing my novel REDISCOERED, I realized I must believe that all good people carry some measure of guilt. I don't know if this is true, but apparently I believe it deep down.
Some examples from the novel:
- Solarian astronaut Garvin Kennett suspects that he could have saved his brother's life, but failed to do so, when they were children.
- Kort Harper is sure he could have saved his parents' lives--and should have.
- Lord Droeth rebukes himself for marrying after promising his lover that he wouldn't.
- The healer Kyra lives with the uncomfortable truth that the death of her lover's wife was convenient for her.
These are all good people--and by "good" I mean persons who, in spite of their flaws, are full of goodwill and generous spirit. Conversely, the "bad" characters in the novel are too smugly sure of their own beliefs ever to question their actions.
Given that I probably believe in this connection between goodness and guilt, I still wonder: Are people good because they feel guilty, or do they feel guilty because they're good? In other words, does natural goodness cause people to rue their imperfections more than others do--or does regret over their imperfections inspire them to goodness in order to compensate?
What do you think?