Writing is cathartic
I wrote this last week and was going to post it Friday, but because the content and the reason why I started writing and why I entered my first competition was so closely aligned to a tragedy I didn’t post it.
Before I begin I would like to send my love and condolences to the families of the victims of the horrific and senseless crime in Newtown CT. Robin Cole has provided us with the address of the Sandy Hook Elementary School if you would like to send a card or letter expressing your sorrow, support, and condolences.
Strangely enough, I began writing many years ago after hearing about a particularly horrific crime. My entire writing career began in an attempt to justify in my own mind why some people find it so easy to kill. Because of the shock, I needed an outlet to appease my complete lack of faith in humanity and so I started to write (and write and write and write)!
I found that the story began to take shape and focus on inter-connections in nature. Everyone and everything in the universe is connected and those who have feeble or broken connections were the focus of my story. They were the ones who could not connect in a human way – and to kill another was as easy to them as tearing up a photograph. The ideas in the story are far too complex to go into here, but I can tell you – it’s still sitting in my bottom drawer calling out for me to finish it.
Half way through the story my 10 year-old son came to me and asked what I was doing. I was ignoring my family and spending night after night on the computer. I’d write into the early hours of the morning, have a couple of hours sleep and then start writing again. I was losing contact with the real world and there was little I could do to control it.
I was exhausted.
When I told my son I was writing a story, he asked me if I was a writer. This was an interesting question because I’d never thought of myself as a writer. I didn’t want to tell him that this tragedy had flicked a switch in my brain and if I didn’t try to understand ‘why’ people do these things I would probably end up having a complete breakdown.
I took the plunge and said, ‘Yes, I’m a writer’.
Several weeks later he came to me with a newspaper clipping. He said the mother of one of his friends had given it to him and told him that if I was really a writer I should enter the local writing competition.
I went cold, clammy and dizzy and said, ‘Okay, when do I have to have it in by?’
He waved the paper in front of my face like kids do because they don’t realise as you get older you can’t read flying pieces of paper.
‘Tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It’s a short story competition.’
‘Hmmm, short story.’ I was sweating. My ruse had been revealed and now I had to admit to my son that I wasn’t really a writer, I was just going mad.
‘I’ve never written a short story,’ I said.
He looked up at me so excited and said, ‘You can do it, mum. I know you can!’
What do you do?
I sat down and wrote a short story.
I managed to get it in on time and then promptly forgot about it, hoping he would too (after all, this mad woman was lying to herself and her children).
When the letter came telling me I’d won first place I thought they had made a mistake.
I told my son and he wasn’t at all surprised. ‘Of course you did!’ he said. ‘You’re a writer.’
I didn’t go back to the novel, but it was very cathartic for me. Now when people are looking for answers to questions that seem impossible to understand, I tell them to just sit down and write. Your writing may not change the world, but maybe it will sort out some the mess and confusion that the world brings into your life.
Do you find writing cathartic?