copyright 2015, Aaron Paul Lazar
Have you lost someone recently? Is your heart broken? Are you falling apart?
It isn’t easy. Hell, no. It’s outrageously difficult. Life isn’t supposed to be this way, is it?
I have dear friends who’ve lost their husband and undergone terrible surgeries all in the same year, whose husbands have the dreaded C word and are fighting day to day to survive, whose children are dying and at home in hospice as we speak, whose children were unfairly targeted by a mass of politically correct school administrators who ruined the boy’s chance of fulfilling his dreams… so many losses, so many hardships. How can they cope? How can these things be happening?
And of course, for those of you who know me, I lost my mother unexpectedly this summer. She was healthy, supremely healthy. But complications arose after a routine surgery and now she’s gone. Gone forever. Way before her time, I might add. It simply killed me.
People suffer every day with challenges, but for writers, as tough as it is to manage our way through these waves of grief or fear, it is an aspect of life that deepens our understanding of the human condition. It may even bring us closer than ever before to the edge of insanity or to the worst kinds of pain.
And yet, as awful as these things can be, I’m here to say these experiences can move you along the path to great writing.
How can our characters hurt if we have never cried or felt the horrible, gnawing black hole in our own chests upon loss of a loved one? How can they seem authentic? How can our words ring true with our readers?
Sure, we can imagine these things. We all do that. We have to in many cases. Especially if we’re writing about being a murderer or flying through space, assuming we haven’t ever killed anyone and aren’t aliens, that is.
But the scenes you write for characters who are deeply hurting will seem even more genuine to your readers after you’ve gone through it yourself. Can you see that?
So, dear writers, use your pain. Tap into those emotions that threaten to destroy you. Analyze your own reactions, your body’s responses. Study your words, your physical motions, your internal dialog. And wrap them up in a package to use when you decide to put your characters through hell.
I guarantee this: your readers will empathize with your characters and may even soak their shirtfronts with tears. They will believe your words. They will believe in your characters and ache for their pain. And, aside from being a number one bestseller, what can be more satisfying than that?
Remember, if you love to write… write like the wind!
Aaron Paul Lazar