The Wretched Redemption of Writing

Writing has incredible healing properties.

And it can tear you apart limb from limb.

At least my broken hearts can be put to paper, my tears turned to words. At least chaos can turn inspiration, dreams can spin a story. I am happy with being a writer. I love finding creativity everywhere I look as I walk through my day.

But there must always be a shadowed side to balance the good.

I can use my pain to provoke a plot, but very rarely do I allow myself relive the experience entirely. Change the names, create the scenes, sprinkle in the symbolism, add some drama, make it fiction. Sometimes, even though the scenarios have evolved so drastically from an original occurance, the events hit too close to home.

A fictional character struggling with cancer can feel like an IRL family member fighting to live in the hospital.

A fictional suicide can be reminiscent of an IRL friend who could have easily succumbed to the depression and been lost.

And – my greatest problem right now – a fictional sacrificial killing (that I’m supposed to be covering in the next chapter of my novel) only makes me think of my beautiful cat that was brutally murdered this weekend.

I love writing. It is my escape, my gift, my passion. But every time I think of the fictional scene, reality invades in a fury. I don’t much like to skip around in this process but the scene is simply impossible for me to write right now.

And any tragic event is difficult enough to write into a novel already. I cry every time I kill off a character. I mourn every time a relationship ends. And I struggle to write fatal illnesses, miscarriages, and depression.

“Write what you know,” they say.

But if everyone followed that advice, we’d have no fiction to read because writing what you know is painful. Every fiction story we hold dear would simply be a conglomeration of non-fiction events. Nothing would provide our escape from reality anymore. Reading things I relate to is hard enough. Writing close to what I know borders on unbearable. There is a fine line between writing the real and writing real life. Crossing that line can be hugely detrimental to the writer (and sometimes the reader, but that’s our evil master plan anyway).

So the larger challenges we face: how do we write a real story without putting reality on paper? And how do we heal ourselves by writing through the pain?