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?

The Queer Qualities of “Quelf”

(After a week of absolute busyness, I finally had a free day to sit down and write a post. Sorry for the wait. Thanks for bearing with me.)


Let me preface this post by saying that if you have never before played the game “Quelf,” you should get on that. I was first introduced to the game in my high school theatre department, if that tells you anything. It is crazy, wild, and fun.

But don’t let that deter you if you are shy. My brother (in the above picture) is a textbook introvert and was hesitant to play, but once he got started, he enjoyed it immensely. He had to use his engineering skills to create a snorkel in between his turns. To his surprise, the game catered to his interest as well.

If you are unfamiliar with the rules, I regret to say I cannot explain them to you. They are very random and vary based on which category you are playing in at the time. There are charade-like cards, trivia cards, cards with challenges (like dares) on them, all-play cards, and cards that create ongoing rules for the players to follow. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking everyone who reads this will understand the game, so suffice to say: it is random, it is unpredictable, and I usually die laughing.

Quelf has many qualities:

1) It engages everyone. From the actor to the engineer, no one is left out.

2) It stretches your limits, and your comfort zone. Some of the requirements of the game are absolutely absurd and ridiculous, but calls everyone to just be goofy.

3) It makes you think. As with many games, part of the fun is the challenge. Quelf is challenging on so many different levels.

4) It is unpredictable. You never know how silly or how imaginative you will need to be. You must be flexible to go with what the game requires.

But what more fun way to put yourself out on the line! To practice flexibility and preparedness. To work on being yourself without putting up “appearances.” It is like a rehearsal for life. (Because all my blog posts have to have some sort of life lesson, right?) Sometimes, life throws curve balls. Sometimes, we have to be bold and unreserved. Sometimes, we have to work to involve everyone and make sure no one feels left out. Sometimes, we face worse challenges than a truth or dare.

Most likely, no one who plays Quelf thinks of the game like this. But if someone is too embarrassed to do one of the requirements of the game, how will they be able to step out when it really counts? Call it practice, call it a warm-up, the game Quelf is a good exercise for reality.