So one of the big reasons I started seriously writing again was because my brain was all messed up. (I say “messed up” because I didn’t actually have any psychological problems, but I was going through some bothersome life stuff.)
Anyway, I’d written little books and stories since childhood, as many of you may already know. But when the end of high school and college hit, my life sort of took a turn toward school and other things. Other things, of course, being a guy. (I know. I’ve learnt my lesson. Books before boys, dammit.)
So after my first year of college, when I got laid off from this awesome freelance writing job, I got really depressed (obviously). It had been the one really good thing to happen to me in a long time. I was still dealing with heartbreak over said guy, and writing for this company helped me focus only on my career. But during those first few jobless days, I wondered if I would ever be a writer again. I felt like that badge of honor had been ripped off my cute blue blazer I’d bought with my last paycheck. That worry became the thing that bothered me more than losing a solid job and being plunged into the unknown.
But then, in that rare moment of clear, meditative lucidity we only get to experience a few times during our muddled lives, I realized I was still, and would forever be, a writer. It didn’t matter that I was currently unemployed. Who cared if I didn’t have novels with my name embossed on their spines? I was going to begin writing again, and this time I would never stop.
So I began Becoming Light. I had a very, very rough plot. I didn’t really know my main character, or her strange alien guardian, for that matter. But I knew what I wanted from them. And I began with destroying Emma’s vision of her future.
Basically, Emma was me. I didn’t consciously know that at the time, even though I knew I was writing my own heartbreak into the story. The pain she feels when she first sees him dancing with another girl came directly from what I felt myself. It was really, really hard to do. I was reliving the emotions as I wrote. (At this point, my cafe friends all knew to avoid me. I was holed up in a corner, hunched over my desk and blasting Florence and the Machine into my eardrums. Only the barista was brave enough to approach me with refills. I was nice to him, of course.)
At the time, though, writing it out really, really helped. It was like I was letting go of all this pent-up anger. I was so much happier, too. I looked forward to getting up every morning and driving to my writing cafe. Looking back, those first few months with Becoming Light were the happiest of my life. I felt like I had a mission. It didn’t matter it wasn’t yet a paid gig. I had a higher purpose, and that was to write.
So, yeah, that book became my own personal therapist. It helped me let go of so much brain garbage, and for that, Becoming Light will always hold a special place in my writerly heart. 🙂
And here I am again. Unemployed. But this time I’m finding it easier to deal with because I already know where my happy place is. I’ve written a ton in the month since that silly editor job decided it couldn’t afford me, and I have a feeling that will be paying off very soon.
Anyone else use writing as therapy? Do you write your personal experiences into your characters?