As a writer of fiction, I’ve heard that to make up stories, one needs a hell of an imagination. My reply to that is bull shit. The truth is fiction is simply a way of making sense out of a crazy, frustrating, and at times when you get lucky, fabulous life. I equate a good story as being a lot like dreaming or, as in my writing, nightmarish experience into a narrative that, through the perspective of someone else’s eyes, I try to make sense out of, in this case, my life. All be it, my stories are a bit exaggerated. Still, I think that exaggeration is based on the intensity of the emotion that came with the experience at that time in a metaphorical way sprinkled with bizarre symbolism as not to let on to the fact that my perspective might be more twisted than most. The truth is, I believe, good fiction comes from those of us that feel every aspect of life in extremes and with every color of the emotional spectrum plus ten that haven’t been identified by science. I’m not sure if that makes me a super empath or simply in need of strong anti-psychotic medication. I prefer to believe it’s more the first than the latter, but what do I know? I’m just a fiction author. I can say that writing fiction is how I understand the ‘whys’ in life. Because if I can’t put events, I’ve experienced into some context that I can look back on and say, “oh, so that’s why that happened,” I’d feel like a turtle on the Autobahn wondering how the hell did I get here and how do I get off this damn highway.
For me, that seems to be the only way to feel I have a tiny bit of control over what’s happening in my life. “Life is what you make it.” Another statement that makes us all believe we are in charge of our lives, but that’s only half-true. It’s not so much what we make it, but how we respond to the parts we can’t control. Before you start shaking your head about that statement, this is my view on the topic and not a statement of fact that I think everyone should swallow just because I said so. Of course, if you’d like to, please feel free to join me in my perspective. If you’re wondering what the hell does this have to do with anything, let me explain. Two weeks ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by an intense thunderstorm with a clap of thunder so loud it felt as if it shook the house, and I jumped up out of bed wondering if a bomb had gone off outside my window. It took me a few seconds of disoriented thinking before I realized it was simply a bad storm. Still, by the time I figured it out, the damage had already been done, and the intense pain that came from my lower back brought tears to my eyes—yes, pulling muscles while sleeping is a thing at my age.
Pain has a way of bringing even the most positive of people to their knees. After two weeks of anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing meds and repeated visits to my chiropractor with only moderate improvement, I fell into a pity party that made it feel as if life was over. I couldn’t sit, barely could walk, and no matter what position I got into, the relentless pain wouldn’t stop. Concentrating on even watching TV was impossible as I endlessly clicked the remote to distract myself from the misery. I hadn’t written a single word, sales of my books were down, and even putting on pants was out of the question. The truth was I hadn’t written a word for several weeks before the injury, writers' block or as I like to call it, creative constipation had already been plaguing my mood. During my involuntary time-out from life, I was sure that I’d never get back to my unconventional way of living again and that there didn’t seem to be any reason why I had to endure this unfortunate incident.
Fast forward, not really fast, two weeks later, the meds and my chiropractor finally started to work. I began functioning again, cleaned up the mess my home had become while not being able to do anything when it hit me, not literally, of course, but creatively. My “why did this happen?” wasn’t so much answered as the “how can I respond to this was. My protagonist, Helena, was about to endure yet another crushing blow before she came out victorious. I guess this is what they mean by suffering for your art.