Midway through 2009, I took a look back over my life of the past two and a half years, and I realized that I had lived, much to my dismay, a storyline that would rival any contrived drama any reality show producer could come up with. My life, like it or not (and I didn't, much), had been the stuff of four-book romance sagas, full of gasp! inducing plot twists and there-is-no-way-that-actually-happened full-circle moments.
In short, I had lived, in full color, 3-d, day after wrenching day detail the stuff novelists would give their dreamy artistic souls for.
And it was miserable!
But! I told myself. There would come a point, one day, when my constricted chest would allow me to breathe again, and I could sit down at the typewriter and gush ink all over the bloody page. I could write it all down, all of it, every icky bone-jarring detail of it, every high and low and up and down, and it would be GREAT.
Do you realize what that meant to me? And I had it all planned out, too. Fake names, altered places, just enough changes to render it fictional while maintaining the ludicrously true skeletal structure that made the whole thing such a fascinating story to begin with. I had it outlined in my head, a detailed novel structure. I even tested it out one day on my fellow writing workshoppers, telling them the most basic version of the story. Before I reached one of the major plot turners, I paused, taking a moment to gauge their reactions. To my delight, I had six middle-aged women, one twenty-something and a thirty-year-old guy leaning forward in their folding chairs, eagerly listening to my every word. And apparently, my pause lasted too long, because I was prompted with "Well? What happened next?"
And if you've never been there, let me tell you -- that's every writer's dream.
I carried that promise with me, that hope of future catharsis-turned-art, as I stumbled my way through that foggy emotionless walking-death period that follows a period of drawn-out emotional torture. One way or another, I would get something out of this mess I'd wound up in. I would get a story, by golly!
Now I'm sitting here, almost ten months later. The fog eventually lifted (I had some help on that, but that's for another time!), the emotional paralysis slowly slowly slowly wore off. It's sunny now, and I'm feeling more like myself than I have in literally years. But there's a problem.
Before, I needed to write that story. I had to get it all out. It's just that at the time, it was too painful. I'm serious- it literally hurt. I tried it once, and I got this sharp stabbing feeling in my lungs. I could not bring my mind to think in such detail over such painful events, so I put it off until I didn't feel it as much.
Which brings us up to now. I never thought I'd say this, but thinking back over those years, even the most painful times, doesn't hurt at all. I caught myself laughing over a memory the other day that before would have brought tears to my eyes. Laughing! Which is awesome, but here's the thing -- when the pain went, so did the burning desire to chronicle.
I read Jessica Digiacinto's article "Your Heart's Been Skewered. When Is It Okay to Write About It?" today, and this line stuck with me:
"When heartbreak no longer “defines who you are,” it’s time to write about it. Until then, you’ll probably never be able to retell the events in a way that’s fair, because your emotions will be the things that push your fingers on the keys, forcing your creativity to take a back seat to pain."
(Check out the whole article at one of my favorite sites, www.litdrift.com. The link to the story is here: http://www.litdrift.com/2010/03/11/when-is-it-okay-to-write-about-heartb...)
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but lately I've been tempted to agree with the sentiment that without depression there is no art. Happy people don't necessarily need to spill their guts on paper or canvas, because they have healthy outlets. It's when you've got something burning inside of you desperate to get out that you, for one reason or another, can't talk about, that artistic expression becomes the most obvious release.
So now that I'm happy, what do I do?
I know the answer. The above question was a little facetious. But it's this dilemma that has made me realize that I truly am a writer, and that it's something I'll always be. Because I will be writing even when I don't absolutely need to. I don't care if my life is a fairy tale from here on out. I WILL write that story. Because it's a good story. Because it's a true story. Because it touches people deep down, people who have been through similar things. Because it was part of my life, and part of who I am, and that is worth expressing, now more than ever.
And, because, trust me -- it's a page turner like no other. I should know. I was there.
Causes Kyla Perry Supports
National Fibromyalgia Association