Writing As Coping by Fallon Brown

This is something I’ve had rolling around in my head for close to a year now. Every time I think I’ll write it, another idea always seems to pop up instead. Also, it leans more to the personal side, and I don’t know if it’s all that inspirational, so I’ve avoided writing it. But, I could be wrong about that, and the timing feels right for it now.

We often hear the advice to write what we know. Taking that at face value, there would be a lot of socially anxious thirty-year-olds who would rather have their nose in a book and not leave the house than ever have a conversation, in person or on the phone, with another person in my books. Doesn’t exactly make for a very exciting story. Also the reason why, though there may be pieces of me in the characters I write, none of them are me.

Digging a little deeper, though, there is more that I know. I know what it’s like to be a child when your parents go through a divorce and feel like you’re the one left behind. I know what it is to lose a friend to cancer. To lose a man who instantly accepted you as family just before officially joining his family. These exact situations may never come up in my stories but often the emotions do.

I’ve always had high emotions, and one way I used to deal with them was poetry. Writing has been my way of coping since I was about eight. From dealing with confused feelings to guilt even years later over how a friendship was left before losing it permanently. All the way to dealing with the grief of my father-in-law’s death two weeks before the wedding.

“Don’t make a writer mad, or you might be written into the story.” is another thing we sometimes hear. And it can certainly be true. I sometimes have to steer clear of a WiP if I’m in a particular mood. Then again, sometimes it’s the mood the story needs. The very first version of my first novel, Duty to Protect, had that happen, and it fit for the story. I think that’s the important thing. And it was rather cathartic at the time.

Last August and into September, as I was writing Flames of Retribution this subplot was working its way in, something I hadn’t planned for. At first, I didn’t realize where it was coming from. I tried to derail it, but this was the first time a story has flowed so easily. So, I decided to go with it, and I could always cut it out later. Except as I was finishing that draft, I felt like it did fit. We’ll see if others agree when my critique partner and beta readers get their hands on it. I also realized it was an upcoming anniversary that had brought out that story line.

Using writing to cope can be a good thing, but again, it has to fit in with the story. It can be therapeutic to get it all down on paper(or the screen), or to put those emotions into someone else’s perspective. But, like with a lot of things in writing, getting other eyes on it is important. To make sure it doesn’t come out of nowhere, that it really does fit with the story and your characters, that you haven’t completely lost track of the point in the midst of it. But, if all that works, then maybe that was just what the story needed anyway.

~*~

Fallon Brown

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