I really have to tell you a bit of back story for this to make any sense. Mid way through last year I was going through a pretty horrendous time and I started seeing a counsellor. In our first session together she asked the question, "Can you tell me what you pain looks like?" I guess she hooked my imagination and some hidden part of me that knew exactly what pain looked like and was pretty desperate to tell someone. That's where the writing started. I wrote a description of 'Beast', a metaphor for my pain, and a character that I could begin to face and deal with. I sent that writing to my counsellor, but I discovered that I had plenty more to say.
I used to think that pain was at its best when it didn't exist. But pain did exist in my life. I thought I would cope better if I could find a way to mute it, numb it or ignore it. I sure as hell didn't want to focus on it. But through my writing of 'Beast' I began to wonder if that wasn't a lie. What if the strength of pain was its ability to point me to something deeper within me? What if acknowledging it, turning to face it and embracing it could tell me more about who I was and why I hurt and start me on the path to healing?
I dared to find out. I created a whole world around Beast and linked what was happening in the 'cave of my heart' to the trauma and issues I was dealing with in real life. I made room for Beast to be what he was in my life and wrote through the eyes of pain. Some 100, 000 words later I had a really rough memoir of this specific time in my life and the hope that I had found. I began to muck about with the writing, chunking it into chapters, refining the thoughts, strengthening the characters and tightening my use of the metaphor and the the inner world I had created. I fleshed out the scenes that occurred in the real world and made sure that the linking back and forth between the metaphor of Beast and his world and my actual life was clear and purposeful. I paid attention to the visual imagery I created with Beast and the other characters that I imagined living with in my heart and began to use them to show what it was actually like to live with depression and battle self harm without needing to be graphic or shocking. I began to realise I had used words to convey what some people who suffer through trauma and issues surrounding mental illness are not necessarily able to. I had words. Maybe others didn't? I began to think the book might be important beyond the immediate value it had in my life. I had the book professionally edited. My editor agreed.
I went back, reworked the book, this time from a technical perspective. Too many adjectives? Did I repeat myself? Did I rely on 'crutch' words? Where was the writing flat? Empty adverbs? Was the dialogue realistic? What did it sound like read aloud? Could I get rid of some suffixes? Did I over use was, is, am, were, being and other 'to be' words? Did my writing 'tell' or 'show'? And the list went on and on... as anyone who has ever revised a manuscript knows.
In short, I went back and remodeled the book. I made damn sure I got conversations that had occurred as accurate as I could. I was obsessive about being true to myself and making sure that every word that I'd written, whether I was talking about Beast and his world in the cave of my heart or actual situations, were rich with honesty. As best I could, I took off the glasses tinted with rose and looked around me for the first time ever. Some of it I didn't like seeing. But I realised that the book would have no power if it didn't let the reader in. It was gut level type writing, pulled from places I didn't know I had within. The edit was hard. Letting go of it was harder. I titled my memoir 'Beast' and entered it into a competition for unpublished manuscripts. I won't hear anything until later in the year, but I am quietly proud of it, whatever happens. I am under no illusions that the book is actually finished though. It made it to the competition in the best form it could for the time I had to prepared it, but I still think it went a bit too raw. It does, however, give me time to sit back and re-edit the work. I have another editor working on it at the moment and plans to submit it for a professional manuscript evaluation later in October. So, there you have it. I wrote a memoir. I wrote 'Beast'. Who knew I had that in me? God did I guess!
Since then I have been doing a lot more writing. Most of what I sell to magazines, especially the articles that I am most zealous about, are non-fiction pieces usually about some one's life. I think that is my specific passion. I would love to write a novel one day, but for now non-fiction writing is what seems to burn within. Up until 18months ago I didn't even realise I was so enamoured with writing. I'd never given air to that particular little dream. But the writing finally breathes.
Where to from here? I don't really know. Of course I have hopes... but I am learning to trust, that like everything to do with this book so far, God's plan and timing for it will be perfect.