This post is one of the more personal ones I’ve written, but I wanted to address the topic, because I’ve learned through the years that writing as a way of dealing with my troubles and insecurities is such a huge part of who I am and why I ended up pursuing my dream of being a writer beyond one or two novels or short stories.
I’m in the process right now of editing “The King’s Sons,” the last chapter in my Herezoth trilogy. I wrote the novel early in 2012 and wrapped it up around the July 4th holiday. And I’m editing scene after scene right now and just being blown away and how much the book reflects the exact issues I am dealing with in my life right now.
I’ve been a graduate student my entire adult life. I study Spanish literature, and I am (or was) pursuing a doctorate because I always thought I wanted to be a professor for a day job. Well, it turned out this path was not everything I thought it was. I can recognize that graduate school is no longer for me, so I’m leaving it behind, but I’m worried about succeeding in the “real world.” I’m living in Chicago, and while I’m not happy here and hate the city and the cold, I’m worried I won’t feel like I fit in at home once I return there (New Orleans). I’m worried I’ll find things, and people, changed when I go back. I visit regularly, but that’s different from living there, and I haven’t really lived there since 2003. That’s ten years.
So, with that background, I find myself editing “The King’s Sons.” Let me introduce you to two of the characters:
FRANCIE RAFE: a member of the king’s Magic Council. After an assault by a group of individuals with a grudge against that institution, she realizes she has to leave her job for a variety of reasons. She has no place to go, feels unfit for other work, and has nothing but being beat down to show for the years she worked so hard to serve the kingdom. She suffers a complete personal crisis.
KANSTEN CASON: born and raised in Traigland, she hates Traigland, and has always dreamed of going to Herezoth, where both her parents were born and raised. She feels insecure comparing herself to her siblings, because they all have magic, and upon reaching Herezoth, is upset to realize the place is not what she thought it would be and she won’t find a home there like she hoped.
I’m reading the scenes where these characters feature, and I’m blown away at how their emotions line up frighteningly close to what mine are, even when the situations they’re facing are very different from mine. When I put those characters in those situations, I think I was trying to see them work through their issues to assure myself that I would come to terms with mine and that there are definitely other people–TONS of people–in the world feeling like they don’t fit in and unsure what the next step to take in their lives should be.
There you go: writing as therapy. Writing as soul-searching and self-exploration. I’ve found this to be the case in every novel I’ve written, to a greater or lesser degree. Whatever my problems are, whatever I’m worried about or stressing about, it all shows up distorted in my work in progress of the period. And somehow, it continues to shock me when I start editing and I notice that. I guess that’s why I’ll always be a writer: it’s my way of dealing with the unpleasant side of life. Some might call it an escape, but it isn’t. By writing, I’m figuring out how to address and confront the things that need adjusting in my day to day existence, and that’s healthy.
I’m curious: has anyone else noticed something similar about their own writing? You don’t need to go into details, for sure–it’s a personal subject–I’m just wondering if you find your problems popping up in your fiction.
(One more plug: The first novel in my Herezoth trilogy, The Crimson League, is only 99 cents through January 11th. The second novel, The Magic Council, is FREE through January 11th. If you’re interesting in some cheap/free reads, feel free to check them out at the links provided.)