I have loved the theatre almost as long as I have loved books. Living in the part of New Hampshire that I do, I was lucky enough to have several summer stock and community theatres in my area as a child. To this day, I am still an enthusiastic attendee of local theatre. The energy of live shows is beyond compare, and I always leave a show inspired to write, edit, or create. This previous weekend, I was able to attend both the world premiere of a play, and a reading of a new script by a favorite local actor. The reading, in particular, was a unique and special experience: all in attendance were invited to comment and give feedback to the author.
Over the course of the conversation, the author, A.J. Ditty, remarked that his play’s seeds were planted in the aftermath of a bad break-up. He then remarked, to great laughter, that “every play is an exorcism”. I understood that concept in an instant. Whether or not we realize it, we authors are using our stories and novels as ways to work through stubborn hurt, heal ancient wounds, and – yes – exorcise our private demons.
I am in good company believing this. Virginia Woolf, herself, once said: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” We’ll leave the discussion about her choice of pronoun for more predominantly feminist bloggers to have fun with, and get at the meat of what she was saying: it’s all fodder. Every single thing. E.J. Frost wrote a fantastic article this week about turning even the smallest injury into writing material. But I am speaking more about the larger pains, the sort which sneak slowly into us and hide… the ones we may take months or even years to realize exist. Something of that sort was the driving force behind From the Desk of Buster Heywood.
Before I even knew what Loren Jarvon had actually done, I knew that Buster was under his thumb, and that it was mostly fear which kept him there. It took me several years to recognize the source of that fear, and to realize that it was one that we shared as author and main character. Around the time that I began to think Buster was more than just some side character running errands for a villain, that he had a story of his own to tell, my real life mirrored my art in ways I had never imagined. The small company I was working for closed overnight without warning, and its owner was brought up on fraud charges. I had worked for the man for almost two years and not suspected a thing, until maybe a week or so prior, when he started working from his home more and more. This happened very close to my own messy break-up, when I found out that my ex had been stringing me along for almost a year. The two events combined threw my confidence in my sense of trust right out the window, and soon after, my overall confidence took a sharp nosedive as I navigated the waters of unemployment during the recession of 2009. All of that eventually found fertile creative ground in Buster’s anxiety and lack of confidence. While I certainly didn’t go to the same lengths that he did to break free of what was holding me back and making me doubt myself, Buster and I grew together over the course of writing his novel… and the three heroes of In The Cards share a few lessons with me, as well. There is a little of me in everyone I write … and with each little exercise in exorcism, I get a little closer to being free of my demons, large and small. So, my fellow authors, the next time you sit down with your characters, take a moment or two to thank them for walking through hell with you. Then bless your writing implements and get to work!
I hope you’ll come back next week, when I kick off the month-long celebration leading up to the release of In The Cards! Until then, I remain your hostess,
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