Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Writers Society: Free Therapy

Remember that one time blogger went down and everyone freaked out? Good times. Though eating posts? NOT cool. Especially posts that are for a good cause.

Hope everyone is having a good day. I know at least one of you out there is having a VERY good one. I'm quite the fan of Friday the 13th.

I think this calls for cheesecake, don't you?

Also, I swear this post is happy, even if it doesn't look like it at first.

So I have issues. Everyone has issues. It's just part of being human—we go through hard things and they leave a mark on us.

For example, I have an irrational fear of losing people I care about. Not just from death, but from moving or losing friends or growing apart. Really, anyway you can lose someone, I worry about it. When I think about why, it's obvious. I lost my grandmother at 8. I moved twice, both at very transitional points in my adolescence. I couldn't keep friends; they always left for someone cooler who didn't want me around.

I still struggle with not being enough. Friends leaving and people bullying me? It always left me wondering what was wrong with me. I would try so hard to be kind to my friends, to really be there for them. That never was enough for them to stick around. Nothing was. It seemed like I was ultimately flawed, and I could never quite pin down why. This led to a lot of self-isolation and distrust of kindness, viewing it as pity or possibly even a malicious trick. (Which, of course, perpetuated my inability to hold on to friends.)

And then there's the whole bottom-of-the-over-achievers thing. I've always been smart, but not smart enough, you know? Smart enough to get A's, but never smart enough for the teacher to fawn over me. Just good enough to be on a team, but not to start. Capable enough to be in a play, but only as an extra. I even made it into the top 30 of my high school class—as #29. Me and #30 spent all of graduation joking about how stupid it was for us to even be on the stand, since we were way back in the dark and couldn't even see all the sappy graduation movies. It was fitting, since when you're good-but-not-best you often end up being overlooked anyway.

Dude, trying to be smart messed me up, lol. Though there's worse things, right?

But here's where this turns into the happy post:

All this stuff? I totally use it in my writing, even when I'm not trying! These themes show up in a lot of my work, and it's the best therapy ever. As I write characters who face loss and isolation and sidekick syndrome, I am able to grow and understand myself better. It helps me come to terms with this messy thing called life. Stories are my way of making sense of the world.

I am very grateful for this. I've learned so much not only about myself but others. I feel less alone and more able to face the things I struggle with. When I am feeling sorry for myself, I can pull out of it much quicker than I used to. I know this is because I've explored my feelings through stories. Writing has given me so much peace in regards to these things, and that, of course, makes me happy.


  1. All the stuff I had to deal with growing up, moving seven times in eight years, having to work so hard to keep friends, feeling like I was never good enough at anything I did, basically all the stuff you mentioned in your all shows up in my stories. And it's not even pre-meditated. It's not like I sit down and think to myself, I'm going to write about that time the guy I had a crush on for years was in love with my best friend. These things just weave themselves in to our character's lives.
    Great meeting today! Have a happy weekend!

  2. What a great post! I've talked on my blog about how much I love writing, because it's free therapy! It's also a real high, and totally addictive. And there aren't many habits like that you can sustain for the price of a notebook and a pen! :)

  3. It's wonderful when you can step back and look at the reasons why you write in the first place. In fact, for me, that's when everything falls into place no matter what else is going on. :)

  4. You're stuck with me for life. I am never leaving.....never. That's kind of a scary thought, isn't it. :) I love you!

  5. You are so right! This was a great reminder that everything we go through in life usually has a purpose, and for writers we get tangible proof of that while getting to work through our issues. I know little shards of my adolescence wind up in characters or scenes in my work.

    But that is what makes a story resonate with readers - being able to relate to what they read. Often our experiences are individual but not unique, which is why authors will always have an audience.

    Thanks for sharing some of your story! ^_^

  6. I sort of know how you feel, about being at the bottom of the over-achievers, but I think sometime during junior year of high school, it stopped bothering me. I found the places where I really shone--because I really cared--and I thrived there. That was what mattered to me. Not calculus or chemistry or whatever.

    And in college, everyone was doing their own thing, so for the most part I had that same mentality.

    It's been out here in this writing world, particularly in the online community, where I've had to remind myself it's okay not to be the biggest and fastest. The blogosophere is a double-edged sword: I absolutely ADORE everyone I meet, but I also have a bad habit of comparing myself to them. Just recently I've made a lot of good progress trying to get back to that "just do you, just thrive where you love" attitude. It's not easy, though.

  7. I'm so excited to have found your blog! I can already tell that it's going to be a favorite of mine.

  8. Writing is the reason I am not insane.

    I know, because a bunch of my relatives who don't write ARE insane. I've worked through so many issues with my writing. I moved a ton, going to 13 different schools in 12 years. I've felt displaced, uprooted and disconnected, and I've worked through that all my life.

    I'm glad writing has helped you!

  9. I know what you mean about the bottom of the top. In Barbados we go to Secondary School based on exam marks. I went to the top school. I went from being top 3in elementary to 30 or 40 (they didn't actuallygive us positions, but we all knew where we stood). In a weird way, it actually de-motivated me. :(

    But I agree. That and all the other things I struggled with are fodder for my MS's.


  10. I know exactly how that feels. Right now I am considered "smart" and well liked by my teachers, but not enough to get awards or nominated for opportunities. That's when I started turning towards writing. I can't believe how much better I feel after I start writing. The "big" problems don't feel so big anymore. I really enjoy your Happy Writer post!

  11. As a teacher, I love all those 'great' kids who aren't #1 or the 'star.' There are lots of them and usually they have their heads on straight.

  12. I know, it's funny how our own issues descend upon our characters sometimes. But if certain people ever ask if they inspired some of my antagonists' behaviors, the answer is I don't really know.

    Oh, I have my ideas, mind you, but honestly I'm not entirely sure.


  13. The best bits in novels are when the heroine has her dream/aspiration/goal thwarted over and over again. The 'story so far' suggests one outcome, then — wauuuuuugh — things turn out different.

    Outside of novels, these are the worst bits.

  14. Woooot! I totally feel you on this one. I've always been the underlooked hard worker. The one who's bustin ass when things come easily to others, and the one who doesn't get seen as much as I could, because I'm not as popular or don't look the part or am too driven and scare people away. I sometimes worry with my writing, maybe it's just good enough to be better than x% of people who aren't published, but still isn't good enough to be published. But you're right, when you get to put some of your flaws into your characters it makes everything seem worth it, and, in a way, you get to educate others on what that feels like. Great post.

    <3 Gina Blechman

    P.S. ...I'll be your friend. :-)