5 Ways This Crazy World Helps My Writing

I could also have titled this post; ‘5 Ways Writing Helps Me Deal With This Crazy World’, because it works both ways. Writing helps me cope with this world and everything going on in it, and the world helps my writing by providing so much inspiration and material! Win win, if you want to put a positive spin on it. I could also have called this post; ‘How The Hell Do Non-Writers Even Survive?’, because seriously, I have no idea. If I didn’t have writing, I don’t know how would I cope. Anyway, here goes. The world is a messed up place but I don’t let any of it go to waste;

  1. Anxiety– I use the mess in my stomach and pretend I’m one of my characters. I play out the scene. I feel the churn and the dread weighing me down. That tightness in my chest. Like it’s hard to breathe. Like you don’t want to think about anything for too long or you might start crying and never stop. I take all that and put it into my characters. I become them. I play act. I change my worries and fears to theirs. I make use of it.
  2. I explore darkness – through my characters. Their stories are nearly all ones I have stood on the edge of. I’ve stood there and peered into the darkness. I’ve wondered about it and thought about it and been tempted by so many things inside the dark. But I have my characters and I explore it through them. I don’t have to go into the darkness, because I do it through them instead.
  3. I leave behind a legacy – For someone who is not religious, I’m not particularly scared of dying, but I do think about death a lot. Because the world is so messed up, and humans so delightfully flawed, I sometimes like to think of my books as my legacy. I’m leaving my thoughts, feelings, dreams, fears and hopes inside my books and these will live on after I do. My response to this world and this life is my writing. All my books, all my stories, my characters are all little bits of me, all part of me and who I am and when I die, my ancestors will be able to know me better than anyone, by reading it all.
  4. I weave the craziness into my stories – I make sense of the world and politics and social issues by writing about them. Anything that angers, upsets or confuses me is woven into my stories. My books all deal with social issues and I love delving into gritty subjects in this way. It gives me a chance to sort through my own thoughts and beliefs, and this dying world gives me a lot of material.
  5. People watching for material -It’s weird being a writer because on the one side you are naturally introverted and shy, but on the other, you are constantly baring your fragile soul to the world. You often distrust people and try to avoid them, yet they are endlessly fascinating to you and provide juicy material for characters and stories. It’s great though because you can go out into the world, soak up all the messy people then come home and expel it all through words.

So, there you have it. I don’t like this world or the people in it a lot of the time. I’m terrified of where we are all heading. But at least I’m getting the constant urge to write! What do you think, folks? Please feel free to comment and/or share. Does writing help you deal with the state of the world right now, or the worries in your own life? Or is the world happily providing you with enough material for a lifetime?

 

A Letter To The People In My Head…

Dear Characters,

First of all, thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for showing up, as you do, without fail, time and time again. Thanks for that! Because none of this would be able to happen if you didn’t.

Thank you for many things in fact, like keeping me entertained and ensuring I am never, ever bored. There’s no such thing as a quiet moment to myself because if I should find one, you like to join me too, don’t you? Same thing at night time. Hello characters, there you all are. Old ones, current ones, future ones. So thanks for that. It would be nice if the rush of ideas and revelations could wait until morning, but it seems you can never wait. Between 2am and 3 am seems to be the golden hour for you guys to suddenly need to share things with me. I’ll let you off, because it’s always riveting stuff, but you don’t seem to realise it keeps me awake for hours after you’ve told me. I appreciate the insight, of course, but I also need my sleep!

I wouldn’t want you to ever stop though. I’m grateful, really I am. You know more than I do, that’s the thing. Because you started all this. You came to me. Your voices, your stories, your lives. You interrupted mine when I was a kid and you’ve been doing it ever since. I never decide to write a story about a 16-year-old alcoholic singing sensation, or a 30-something woman who can’t leave the house anymore because she hates people so much, you guys just show up! I don’t know how you find me. I guess somehow you know that I want to listen.

You surprise me again and again. When you first show up, out of nowhere. When you start getting chatty, warming up, revealing yourselves. I respect the honesty, because let’s face it, none of us are perfect. You lot are a pretty flawed bunch. But I think that keeps things interesting. You go on surprising me after that. Usually mid-plot. Throwing unexpected twists into the storylines. I suppose you must surprise yourselves too? A sequel? Didn’t see that coming but yes, I can see how you would want to talk about what happened next…A trilogy now, is it? Okay, if you’re sure, if you think you’ve got enough drama, I will keep it coming if you do. And don’t worry, I have already plotted most of the third book, and yes, I will end this one by writing the first chapter of the next. Your incessant babbling has seen to that.

Thank you for keeping me excited. It’s not enough to say you keep me from being bored because it is so much more than that. I have to thank you for the fizzy lurch in my belly every time I think about writing, that excitement, like Christmas, as the time draws nearer. I wake up in the morning and think about writing. I travel through my day and perform my duties, still thinking about writing. You people, you are there, all the time, paving the story, laying it out piece by piece, showing me the way. I race to the laptop in the evening, still excited, and then I bang away at the keyboard, and the excitement never seems to fade.

Thank you for teaching me about people, about human nature and society. I’ve always been fascinated by them, a people watcher from an early age. People pass you by on the street and you watch them go and wonder who they are, what secrets they hold, where they are going, and what they dream of. Being a writer allows me to explore these thoughts and answer all the ‘what if’s…’ You guys, my characters, you keep me curious. You show up with these messy, complex lives. You’re all tangled up, the lot of you. It’s my job to unwind you. To figure you out. Some of you are pretty vile. Some of you have done some very bad things. But all of you are teaching me something about how this life is full of human cruelty, courage, heroes, and villains. I thank you all for that.

You get pretty noisy. You certainly wear me out. I’m always relieved when a first draft is over because you tend to get quieter after that. Sure, some of you still show up years after your story has been told. Maybe you miss me. Maybe you still have something to say. But generally, once the story has been blurted out into an ugly yet victorious first draft, you tend to give me a break, and believe you me, I’m looking forward to it this time! I’m just days away, just chapters away from finishing a first draft. I know there is more work to be done, and yes, somehow you current characters have talked me into a third book in this series, and honestly, I’m grateful and I can’t wait, but I am looking forward to a brief reprieve. I know you’ll start up again pretty soon, but if I get to the finish line on this story in the next few days, maybe you could let me have a few night’s sleep as a reward? What do you say?

Then again, second thoughts, scrap that. If you have something to tell me, don’t hold back. I would never ever want you to fall quiet.

Cheers, guys xx

 

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash