It has been a rough couple of months. My list of aggravations and distractions is long and boring. Some have kept me preoccupied, some have left me physically and emotionally battered, and some have simply annoyed me with their pesky insistence on attention. This is one of those times when I believe the universe is asking me how much writing means to me.
It means a lot.
After a particularly difficult and stressful day, I wanted nothing more than to sit on my butt, zone out on a mindless TV show, and give my brain over to meaningless drivel so I wouldn’t have to think anymore. After giving into this brain cell homicide, I popped open my little bitty laptop and started to write. I wrote until 2:00 in the morning, creating a plot outline, doing character work, and fleshing out a story idea for a sequel to my first novel.
The work was therapeutic, not just because it got my mind off of the other issues I’ve been contending with, but also because it gave me a sense of accomplishment that I have needed recently. Typically, when I hear someone say, “Oh, writing is sooo therapeutic,” I will roll my eyes and try to keep my sigh of annoyance to myself. That’s because usually when someone refers to writing as “therapeutic” they are talking about having written a fictional scene based on some sort of real life trauma or event. That kind of therapeutic writing means the reader is in for a soap opera version of things that will be about as entertaining to read as having a root canal without anesthesia. I stay clear of that kind of therapy at all costs – both writing and reading.
The kind of therapeutic writing I experienced was the type that allowed me to focus my brain so specifically on the task at hand that the real world ceased to exist for that expanse of time. I had no children, no spouse, no unemployment issues. I became simply an observer in the fictional world of my creation, and I could wander about the streets, through the houses, and follow my characters as they went about the business of living their lives. I listened to their conversations, noticed how they dressed and what they ate, and I became so much a part of their world that when it was time to leave, I did so with a sense of mourning but also a sense of achievement.
I would love to be able to say that this total immersion in my writing is a common occurence, but the fact is, it is a rare pleasure instead. It is also an addiction, because having experienced it, I want it more and more often. Since that very difficult night, I have had bits and pieces of the escape I found, but sadly, not the extended stay that I am craving so ferociously. Circumstances being what they are, it just isn’t possible to repeat that sojourn on a consistent basis, but I am committed to making it happen more frequently now. That respite in my fictional world has become a necessary part of my sanity these days. The knowledge that I can go back again and again is often what gets me through my days. Writing truly is my survival and my sanity right now, and I am grateful every day to know I have access to that kind of therapy for only the cost of my time.