Photo by Emma Katka
This was supposed to be a happy post. This was supposed to be a post about a victorious feeling after finishing Draft 4 of my 1st novel, getting 50+ Beta Readers to read it, getting an enormous amount of positive feedback on it, and much much more. Well, it's not going to happen, because 20 elementary school kids died this morning when a gunman, a father of a student, opened fire on them.
HOW CAN YOU LIVE AFTER HEARING NEWS LIKE THIS? TELL ME. I'll tell you. I will write. I will write as fast as I can. I will use every second of my existence to do it.
I won't let a gunman stop me. It is my job, to change this fucking world for the better or die trying.
IT'S WHY I LIVE.
People keep asking me where I got inspiration for my book. It wasn't inspiration, it was pain, an incredible amount of pain that I didn't know how else to release and help others feel it with me, in hopes of doing something about it together. As I disclosed on Twitter a few weeks ago, I'm an incest survivor, my father and my step-grandfather sexually abused me and I had complete amnesia until I went back to Russia and saw my father. This triggered memories, panic attacks and the like. At 33 I wanted to kill myself, but then decided, NO, FUCK IT, I will talk about it instead. For the first time in my life, I understood why I wanted to take my life at 16. Why I ran away from home. Writing SIREN SUICIDES was my therapy. It's heavily laced with issues of teenage suicide and the antagonist is a woman hater. This is my cry for help, this book. I want to stop teenage suicide. I want to stop abuse. I want to change it.
YOU CAN DO IT TOO. WRITE A NOVEL. PLEASE.
Dig deep into the pain you're afraid to face. All of us have this one forbidden topic that nobody mentions at family gatherings but that gives you nightmares. You're afraid to mention it, I know. Don't! Make up a fictional character with the same problem and pour out your heart into a fictional story. Magnify the issues you want to talk about, it's the best thing ever. You can be as mad as you want, as angry as you want. In fact, the more you feel while writing, the better it feels when you're finished. I can testify to you that I'm a hundred traumas lighter after almost finishing my book. So go ahead, start today. Take one step closer to being happy.
Forget about plot and stay true to your feelings. Stop reading books about how to write books. 1st Draft of anything is shit. Just sit down and start from the place that hurts most. Keep pouring until it's empty. I'm sure it will take you several months (though it took me only 6 weeks, I carried it so long, I guess it badly wanted out). Keep writing. Don't stop. Don't think. Don't talk to anyone. Don't share it with anyone. Write. Stop at the end when done. Ignore your doubts. Imagine that you're writing a complete stream of consciousness. And one day you'll be astounded to find Draft 1 completed. Voila!
Divorce from your story, make it about your characters. Now that you have 1st Draft completed, let it rest for a week and then read the whole thing to see how it makes you feel and find the story that's there. Let it live on it's own - each consecutive Draft is about the story, NOT YOU. Remember this. That's why people will read it. They don't know you, they won't care for your pain. That's why a novel is so powerful. You create a fictional character that is a magnified version of everything you ever wanted to be (or not), and readers will notice that person. They will root for her or him, and they will feel it together with you. The most recent example I have of this is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I can literally feel what he's trying to say, and it made me that much more driven to continue with my own writing.
Stop existing and start living. Think about it. You carry suppressed pain. We all do, to one extent or another. Your body and mind spend energy suppressing it, instead of enjoying life. So, depending on the amount of pain you carry, maybe about 20% of your energy is spent keeping it in check, maybe 50%, maybe even 80%. Ever meet those people that look like walking zombies? Yeah. You don't want to turn out like that. Cut yourself open, I know, it's painful, but it must be done in order for you to spill your pain on paper. And you will gain your energy back. I did. I'm happy. I've never been happier in my life than I am now. You can do it too. Please!
Now that I've written my pain out, in this post, I actually feel better. I only have one question for you - why do you live? Right now, right this very second, if you knew you had only 1 hour left to live, what is it you wish you had time to do? Would you wish you weren't so afraid and had the guts to tell your story? You still can.