Fictional Bravery vs Real Life Bravery


Once there was a woman of infinite grace, married to a man of infinite jest. She was meek and quiet. She hid behind her hair.



As a writer, I deal in emotion. Regardless of genre, all writers, when you boil it down,  create out of emotion. In fiction, where I peddle my trade, we also draw off real emotion. It is instilled in each character’s actions and reactions.

Or distilled?

They talk of “strong” female characters. Most times though, these are caricatures of the writer’s fantasies.

I like to think I write strong female characters. But my version of strong isn’t  a super-flawed, super heroine. I like to think mine are real. They are confident but not arrogant. They are evil and manipulative when the story calls for it, and capable, smart and caring and sometimes brave and take charge, also when the story calls for it. Above all, I want them to be real and relatable.

But fictional bravery is a pale simulacrum of real life.

Here is where the real life bravery far outstrips anything I could ever hope to put on paper.

Recently an insidious evil has crept into my home. Even as we speak it is trying to steal  my wife and I am helpless to stop it. I don’t like that feeling. I have always had a bit of a superhero mentality. I want to fix things when I see them broken. Offer protection, lend a helping hand. Ya, the caveman, dominate-male, programmed, privileged mentality, I get it. Accept my many failings and move on. The fact of the matter is, I can’t do anything to help. My wife has to face this battle on her own. Is she capable? Hell yes! She happens to not only be smarter than I am, but she is proving her bravery every second of every day.

She is forcing this battle to happen on her terms. That’s not to say there aren’t moments when she is knocked back on her heels. Like today for instance.

It is today that we realized the first hurdle, the first blow. Her hair.

Yes, the initial diagnosis had the impact of a wrecking ball, but she was in otherwise good health. There were no external symptoms and no pain. She sailed through the first two treatments with little to no discomfort. She handled the biopsy and subsequent marker procedure, even injecting herself, with a grace and a smile. Forced at times, but a smile none the less.

The first crack in her armour. Yes it is just hair and it is a small price to pay, but for many women it is more than that. For some it is their identity, it is one of the few fashion accessories that they will always control, that is always uniquely them. For others, like my wife, it is their security blanket. She is losing hers and there is nothing I can do about it except hug her through her tears.

If I could, I’d trade places with her in a heartbeat.

I hereby turn in my cape. My wife, Sue, is more deserving of it than I am or ever imagined  I could be.


Once there was a woman, and while she is not gone, she is forever changed.

She is the brave that stories only hope to capture.

She is a warrior.



Many thanks to her support. Crazy writers and their spouses, old high school and university friends, co-workers, long time friends (extended family) and family (both blood and by marriage). You guys prop her up when she is low. You are all gems.


About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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7 Responses to Fictional Bravery vs Real Life Bravery

  1. Dude. Well done.

    And while this is a fight only Sue can tackle, she’s got a lot of support. She’s lucky to have you and your beautiful daughters. And you are all lucky to have her.

  2. Gail says:

    You’ve got a real good one there, Dale. She is fierce.

  3. Pat says:

    Don’t turn in your cape just yet, Captain Caveman. You’re still a hero in my books.

  4. Warrior woman: fierce and real. Amen!

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