The Painful Journeys of Writing

First, my chat and reading over at the Bar Rag is up for your listening pleasure. If you’re interested, stop by when you get a chance to get a sample of Twice Bitten.

Now, onto emotional stuff.

In one way or another, writers face their fears. Some do it directly by writing about something traumatic or tragic in their lives. Some do it indirectly by attributing a personal fear to a character, or placing the character in a situation that they themselves would fear.

Or, maybe the fear is about the writing itself. Will I be able to write a good story? Will my sequel live up to the first book? Will it sell? Will readers like it? Will critics like it? I am having serious writer’s block—will I ever be able to write another word ever again?

Writing is a different experience for each writer, although I think we share many of the same thoughts and emotions about it. And no matter how we experience a story, it is a journey that we go on—with the characters and with our emotions, good and bad.

As many of you know, I write nonfiction as well, and it’s in this sector that I had the most emotional writing journey of my life. While working on a project, I had to dig really, really deep into my soul and psyche, and pull out things that I thought I had packed away years ago. I had to rip open old wounds and examine the pain and my relationship to the sources of that pain. The monsters that had inflicted those wounds came to life and became real again.

It turned out that what I thought I had locked away in the attic had been around me all along. I had just disguised them, dressed them in camouflage so that I wouldn’t see them. They stealthily hid in the background of my life.

Then, when I started this project, they emerged from the surroundings, like guerrillas launching an attack. I wasn’t completely unprepared for the attack because I was writing this project based on a recent experience and I knew it was going to be difficult. Nevertheless, I was taken aback by the pain—not because it stemmed from new wounds, but because it was from old wounds, and who expects old wounds to still hurt so much?

But, like all my other writing, that was a journey that I decided to embark upon. I’m still on it because I haven’t finished the project yet. I had to back-burner it because some other things took precedence. But I know that when I pick it up again, I’ll be poking at those scabs again. In many ways, my fiction irritates those old wounds as well, so it’s a wonder I don’t end up in an emergency room somewhere with a morphine drip.

I know many of you have written from the depths of your souls and understand what I’m talking about. So, I take some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone.

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2 thoughts on “The Painful Journeys of Writing

  1. The creative process often brings up stuff from our pasts that we thought we had already dealt with. And sometimes, the creative process itself involves pain. Follow your gut on it, see where it leads. Namaste.

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