When Life Gets In The Way – And It Will


We are writers. No matter what we write, we are writing about life, about living, about the things that matter to us, about the pain and joy and music and poetry of living. We are writing about the insecurity and excitement of romance, a mystery that needs to be solved, a life decision that needs to be made, a loss that has been suffered, a battle or war that needs to be fought.

We write, and as we write, we incorporate and use every good and wonderful and easy thing that has happened to us, as well as every difficult and painful and dreadful thing that has happened to us in the past. All that we are, all that we have survived, is part of our characters and our plotlines and the landscapes of our writing. The feel of water from a cold shower can be interpreted and twisted into the experience of an icy storm pelting us with life-stealing sleet. The remembered taste of bitter herbs can be added to a scene about food foraged in a forest, as starvation nips at our character’s heels. The pain of a loss of a pet or even a loved one can, in time, translate to a character suffering a great loss on the page. However, it often takes time to reach a point when the past can be used in our writing.

But this is Making Money Monday and I need share how this, “living what we write” translates to making money. It comes back to writing our passions, good, bad, happy, sad. Writing what we know. Writing the things that make us and our readers feel and think and grow even as our characters feel and evolve and develop, which means using our own pasts to move a story and our characters forward. It is part of taking our readers on a journey, a journey that they pay us to lead them through. We write. They buy the stories. That’s Making Money every day of the week.

But what happens when our current lives hurts us? When we are sick? When we are in pain? When the people we love are sick and dying? How do we bring our own emotions into the work? Or do we at all?

Honestly, in such a situation, I am more likely to push the pain aside and write things unrelated to my own life. I am likely to hunker down and push the real world away and write the fictional world, the fictional people, burying myself and my pain beneath the story. I get a lot of work done when I am in crazy-life mode.  I write a LOT when my life spirals out of control. Which can translate to – Yes. I make money when my life spirals out of control. This year I have a lot of work coming out: four books, two Rogue Mage Anthologies, and three shorts in other people’s anthos. Because last year sucked health-wise for me. So I wrote. A lot. BOTE-Cover Like this one, book one of the Soulwood series.

I think that proves that writers (or at least this writer) are indeed, as the media tends to paint us, crazy. When life gets in the way, we can, often must, subjugate that life and write fiction. It can be cathartic. It can make us insane. Or it can make us saner.

This is not to be considered advice to other writers. It is simply a rambling result of pain recently experienced. And I will close with this example of what I’m talking about.

My brothers and I have been taking care of Dad these last 9 days. My father has Parkinson’s, is fairly deaf, and is now blind. He has to be fed unless the food can be located on a plate with his fingers and eaten with his fingers. When he is not at home, he has to be led. He walks with a walker. He falls. My brilliant father, who could debate *anything* scientific or political, is losing his mind. And as he fails, I am discovering new things about him. Most are revelatory about his relationships with his world and the people in it. Some are about me. They hurt. Almost uniformly, they hurt. These things I will use in writing someday. But not today.

For now, I am writing through the pain.

Actually rewriting book two in the Soulwood series, CURSE ON THE LAND. CurseonLand_WebI am hiding in the story, hiding away from the things I am learning. I am making money. And some day I will write, using the things I am learning about my father and about myself. Because that is what writers do. We tear and slice and rip our own lives and bleed them into stories about the Big Bad Ugly under the bed. The things we don’t want to look at.

If you are going through something horrible (and honestly aren’t we all, at some point?) simply know that someday this misery will translate into a story. And someone will buy it. And on today’s pain, you will … make money. Horrible, isn’t it? But mostly, you will tell a story. And someone, somewhere will learn and grow and become something more from your pain.




4 comments to When Life Gets In The Way – And It Will

  • Yes a thousand times to all of this. I remember writing through the pain when I lost my parents. This was back in the 1990s and I was working on my first series, struggling to get the books written to learn my craft, to figure out what it meant to be a writer, to learn how to be a Dad (my first daughter was born in ’95) and finally to process all the grief of losing my mother and then my father. I couldn’t deal with it all. I certainly couldn’t handle writing about it. So I wrote in spite of it. I wrote because that was the only way to keep myself going.

    17 years later, I wrote HIS FATHER’S EYES, which was about all of that stuff. That’s how long it took my to process and turn the pain into art. It is all grist for the mill. But sometimes we need to wait for the crop to mature before we can reap what life has sown.

  • I don’t know when I’ll lose my parents, but I do know that the possibility hovers close for them both. Cancer and heart disease are ticking time bombs, no matter what you do. That plus losing my husband and partner of 14 years recently to another woman has been … well, it’s stressful, to say the least, especially given all of the friends I also lost as a result (because false friends are shallow and heartless). I have a lot of grist, and since some things haven’t happened yet, and other unexpected things have (note to self: next time the mad scientist offers you one of his creations, say NO), that reservoir of weird experiences keeps getting bigger. But amidst this chaos, I’m writing more, too. Fitting it and self-care into the cracks.

    Maybe for us, writing *is* practicing self-care. That makes sense if it is.

  • David, I remember you telling me about this long ago. I knew that I’d experience it someday. That day is now and it is slow and excruciating. I did take an entire day off and … rearranged shelves. I needed to force order upon something in a way that I could actually see happening, could actually have a measurable result. I should have been writing. But that day off was more important.

    Laura, I know this year has been hard. And yes — writing is self-care and self-love.

  • I’m blessed in that both my parents are relatively healthy in body and mind, and still independent. But I sometimes become frightened at the realization that every day is one day closer to when my parents won’t be around any longer. Losing my husband’s mother last year, while hard, was not the same blow to me as it was to him, but writing was the escape I needed from the pressure of being strong all the time. *hugs*