I learned a long time ago that writing was a form of emotional release for me. It was a way for me to cope with the world; an escape. What I didn’t realise was that sometimes it’s a bad thing to do.
Why you ask?
I’ll tell you why.
I finished editing my first novel and I’m now in the process of going through my second novel to start rewrites next month and I cam across a scene where I’ve had to kill a character. A character that is a huge part in a lot of my character’s life. A father figure. And right now, as I am going through that scene, I’m reminded of the day that I got a call very much similar to the call that my main narrator is doing and I’m reminded of what it was like to slide down the back of my couch and sob as I was told that my father had passed away.
Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for the loss of a man I looked up to, but more so, I didn’t know then that I would use that pain to write a scene that to me, is real as anything. I know that people will read it and say it’s not possible to be that detached from life, but it is. I remember thinking about the damn raw dessert that my cousin wasn’t going to get to eat the next day, or that I needed to clean up before I left, or that I could pack my own clothes. All of these things sort of blended together and as I sit and look at this scene 11 months since I got that call I’m level headed and clear as all hell, but writing that scene?
It was probably one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to write. I didn’t get to see my father until the viewing the day before his funeral and I refused to go in there. I didn’t want it to be real, but that pain, something that is still so raw inside me, is a pain that I use on a daily basis. It’s what gets me up in the morning so I can function. It’s the pain that I use to make sure that I keep myself in check, I go to the gym and try to eat better because I know that the results will help me keep myself healthy and my risk of what killed my father down; I do things that are out of my comfort zone because life is too short to worry about not doing it.
I use it to write scenes that are incredibly hard and emotional. I don’t deal with things in the real world. I can’t. I deal with them on paper, in the words I can’t say out loud. Saying them out loud makes them real, writing them down, makes it real too but on a much more manageable level. It gives me time to take it one step at a time. One foot in front of the other.
Writing scenes that challenge you emotionally are fun (says the masochistic writer), they generally come out better with the emotions behind them. The budding writer in us uses those moments to thrill a reader, we want them to feel the tears we felt writing and the moments our hearts skip a beat with the smallest of gestures. So the next time you feel the need to shut down and procrastinate because it’s too hard to write something down, sit down and try and say the words out loud. Explore them. Are they harder to say? Do they taste bad when you try to say it?
Let me know if you deal with things in writing or how you would deal with emotions that pop up when you write. I’m always interested to see if I’m not the only oddball out there.