Sharon’s Note: Full disclaimer on this: These are my own opinions and experiences, and things that have worked for me. I’m not a psychologist or anything like that. I’m not telling you to do anything or how you should feel things. If your experience is different, cool. Everyone’s is. Leave a comment if you want to talk about it, or heck, send me a message. I’m always up for a chat. Warning: Author putting on paper yet another conversation she had with her husband.
So, I’m disabled. No big surprise there, I talk about it a lot and it’s a big part of my life. I’ve had a string of neurological issues that have degraded my health since I was 20 years old. At 38 years old, I have problems walking, get tiered very easily, and if I’m having a particularly bad day I can barely get out of bed and can have problems speaking. I’m not saying this to invoke pity or to seem brave, I’m saying it so that you’ll have a good basis to understand what I’m saying.
Sometimes I have problems dealing. I get sad because there are things I can’t do. I get depressed (not the same as Depression) that I have to cancel my plans and stay in bed. I get frustrated because my mussels spasm and cramp, and there’s not much to do about it. I get angry because I hurt. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but I like to say that negative emotions are a little like hell. It’s not a place you really want to live, and the only way to get through it is to go through it.
Short version: Negative emotions suck, but they are there to be worked through, so do that.
A big part of my mental health is writing. When I started writing Hard Hunting, I wasn’t in the best place. I was frustrated that I had hit a plateau physically, and then I had a relapse. It was like I was starting from zero and it made me sad, and angry, and I was having trouble dealing with it. My husband was the one who insisted that I keep writing it, so I did.
I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I talk about some things in there that really bother me, and I cried more than once while getting it on the page. After writing a particularly emotional scene I was so upset I was shaking, but after I calmed down, I felt better. I read through the section again, and it hurt a little less. Actually, the more hard scene’s I went through, the less it hurt to go through them again. Some people need to talk about their demons, which I had done and had helped a little. For me, getting them on paper worked better than talking did.
Now, Hard Hunting is fiction and that is by design. I’ve actually had people criticise me for this, saying that I needed to put my story out there as is. I disagree with this for two reasons (besides the knee-jerk reaction of heck with you, I write what I want).
One: Making this happen to a character gives me a little bit of distance I need to tell all the worst things. It’s not really embarrassing if it happens to her, and not me. This is lying to myself in a way, but I love the old saying that fiction is a way to tell the truth through lies. I know it’s a lie, but the sugar coating of it happening to someone else makes it go down easier. I acknowledge that this is for me, not the reader, but readers are smart, and more empathic than you think. If you really feel it, so will they.
Two: I like fiction. I don’t write things I don’t read, and for the most part, I can’t get into ‘True Stories of the Authors Struggle with _____’. There’s nothing wrong with the genre, it’s just not my cup of tea. I like Urban Fantasy, so I like to write Urban Fantasy. If I’m going to rip my heart out and bleed all over the keyboard, I should at least have fun with it.
So, is writing your current problems fiction a good form of therapy? I don’t know, ask an actual therapist. It did help me a lot, though, and I recommend it based on that.