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?

Couch Potatoes Anonymous

Oh hey! Did y’all know I have an unhealthy addiction to television shows? Well-written ones, mind you.

I’d laugh, but it really is a terrible thing for a college student. I have far too many. I watch them when I fix my meals and sit down to eat. If I can’t keep up that way alone, I set aside a weekend every now and then to just catch up. It really got me thinking when, just yesterday, I got hooked on Downton Abbey. My Nana is recovering from a heart attack, so my entire family has found themselves butts glued to the couch, eyes riveted to the screen. As this type of drama is typically not my “cup o’ tea,” I didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, not only a well-written story, but distinct, entertaining, real characters. So, alright, I admit I was wrong to judge by the pilot.

Downton Abbey has added itself to:
The Vampire Diaries
Once Upon A Time
Arrow
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
How I Met Your Mother
Doctor Who
Sherlock
Grimm
Beauty and the Beast

Not to mention, I am adding the following this fall season:
The Originals
OUAT in Wonderland
Agents of SHIELD

Don’t even start me on the Chinese and Korean “bubble shows” Karen got me started on in Thailand.

Judge me all you want. I realize that’s quite the diverse list and some of them may be considered “nerdy” (but you are never too old for Marvel) but I stand proud. Especially since I count these shows to have some of the most entertaining plots and characters on television today.

It takes a lot for a writer to write a novel. Or a screenplay. It’s effort. So imagine the effort (although often a group effort) it takes to write a story in 20-40 minute episodes, with 16-22 episodes a season that last for several seasons that progresses every, single episode! (Forgive the run-on sentence.) It amazes me to see the plot twists, the complexities of character, the spider-web story-lines, the interactions and emotions that evoke a real reaction from the audience.

In fact, I can’t watch something well-written without wanting to write. I sit down in front of my television with a notepad and pen to start sketching out relationship webs, brainstormed ideas, or preliminary character concepts. Similarly to books, a good story just makes me want to write one of my own. I want those fascinating characters and intriguing stories that keep the audience laughing, crying, and on the edge of their seats.

So, that’s my excuse then. Television inspires me. So an addiction must be okay. If you need me, I’ll be over here, blazing through my massive list of tv shows.