I don’t care what you’re writing: whether it’s a sci-fi novel, a comic book, or a memoir. You experience something, from start to finish. You are baring your soul to the world, whether you know it or not. Your characters, your plot, that all came from your own mind. It’s a part of you. And sometimes these experiences fucking suck.
Fun Fact about me: I don’t like feeling my feelings. I prefer to swallow them down with a glass of cabernet and pretend they don’t exist. But that’s just not compatible with life, at least not the kind of life I want to live.
So I write.
I started writing The Book about 7 months after my husband left me. Now, The Book is 100% fiction, but it’s inspired by true events. I’m here to tell you: fiction or not, doesn’t make writing it any goddamn easier.
My therapist at the time told me one day I’d end up on her couch sobbing, this imaginary day she had envisioned I would finally feel my feelings and begin to deal with the fact that my life had just been uprooted, destroyed, changed instantly and forever, whatever you want to call it.
But that day never came. And I knew it wouldn’t.
What did happen was many, many other days (and nights) – nights when I was alone, usually drinking, clacking away at my keyboard, and my own words would knock down those walls my good-hearted therapist had been trying so hard to tear down herself. All of those feelings would flood into my mind and set up camp. And I’d feel ’em.
I think reading it is always worse than writing it. Right now I’m in the super fun stage of revision – which means reading it over and over again. It feels like picking at a scab, throwing salt in an open wound, over and over again.
Now my life is fucking (excuse my language – for this post I think it’s necessary – I’m being real here) great, don’t get me wrong. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, in the healthiest relationship with the single greatest human on the planet, with a successful career. Nothing is wrong. But that doesn’t erase the fact that I have a major life trauma I never dealt with.
Instead, I told the story to my laptop – and now I have to confront it. Face first, head on, no way out. If I ever want to finish this GD book, and oh my – I do.
I think of it as similar to what I’m experiencing with my ankle. I had surgery a few months ago, and even though I’m a nurse – and have had ankle surgery two other times before – I seemed to have forgotten how exhausting and stressful recovery can be. I forgot how grueling physical therapy can be, and how the anxiety of not knowing if the surgery even worked can be overwhelmingly awful. I forgot how it feels to work full time with a part time side gig, writing a book, and attending what feels like hundreds of post-op appts, PT sessions (while doing my home exercises…), feels. It never even occurred to me. Until now.
Writing sucks. It’s heart-breaking to read your own story, to see your own words, to confront your own demons.
But with all of that awfulness comes moments of great clarity. And of closure. Closure that I’m not sure I ever would have experienced if I never started writing.