The Solace of Sorrows
Why do I write? The simple answer is because I have to. It’s who I am.
I can’t even remember when I started writing. It seems I was born with a pen in my hand and a Mary Poppins bag of narratives.
At the time, I couldn’t have known I would choose to express my grief through writing.
When I was twelve, one of my best friends died from cancer. I couldn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t understand the horror of it. I couldn’t stand my own emptiness.
I wanted to remove the sadness from my head. I wanted to remove all of it.
It felt too all-consuming. And every thought was him. And I couldn’t shake him from my head. And I tried to convince myself he was secretly alive. And I tried to make stories about his survival. And how I would recognize him years later because I still loved him. And I couldn’t let him go. And –
No, the truth is I have to write because that’s how I express myself. Not all of me though: only the sad, and angry, and broken parts of me. The words fall out of my pen rather than my mouth. I could only speak in terms that bubble over like a pot of boiling water.
I tried to transfer my sadness into my stories. It was all I could do to relieve myself from the pain of existing. My stories, which were once filled with white picket fence picturesque narratives, were now looking past the gate, into the house, where the story doesn’t end with a “happily ever after.” With people losing their loved ones and everything that mattered.
I wanted to know what made people sad. What broke them. How far people could be hurt, be stretched, before they fell apart. I wanted to test those limits.
My intention was to capture a person’s internal apocalypse. To show someone who hit a point of complete mental collapse that would change them forever. I wanted readers to question the survival of characters in this hungry world.
When I look around me, I see the sadness, the anger, the horror. But I’ve learned to see the beauty as well. I wanted to capture the feeling of hope and place it into others heads. I wanted others to know that although things may look broken, they can still be beautiful, be loved. That the most broken things need loving the most.
I wanted people to see the beauty in the broken things.
See the beauty in me.
Now I’m not telling people the only way to write is out of negative emotions. Or out of some childhood horror. Or out of their acceptance of this horror. I can’t guarantee success this way. I can’t guarantee my own success this way.
And what is success, anyway? For people to know your name? For people to like your work? For people who don’t even know you, who live halfway across the Earth to praise you?
Perhaps success is to know that you weren’t nothing. That after you die there will always remain a piece of you. Something to prove you lived.
The only way to success I can suggest is for you to grab hold of whatever it is that makes you feel something real and spend the rest of your life trying to put that feeling into words.