Two years ago, I tried NaNoWriMo for the second time. I had some admittedly autobiographical stuff I thought could keep me writing for a month, and see where it goes. About fifteen days in, after my protagonist had remembered a few things I had – for the sake of bashing out a quick first draft – pretty much lifted 1:1 from my own life, I skimmed over what I’d written so far.
And I thought, Bloody hell. This is bleak.
Pretty soon after, I stopped writing. Later I’d condense what I’d wanted to do with the framework of the story into a piece of flash fiction that did everything a piece needed to do for sharing. I don’t know where that novel draft is now; I’m not sure I still have it.
This week, Austin Kleon wrote about writing about the bad stuff, and I’ve been thinking about it for days.
Over the years, I’ve done my fair bit of healing and sharing. Looking back, the way I tell my stories has changed; I leave out a lot of detail, and tend to focus on the basics and look for a positive spin. It’s not enough for a novel or even an essay, but it got me on a storytelling podcast once.
But right now? I have no interest in writing any more dark stories, about myself or others.
As Austin Kleon says:
We all have pain.
It isn’t necessarily interesting.
That includes ourselves. These days, I’m a lot less interested in my pain than literally anything else. Having become comfortable with writing about pain, that now puts me into a bit of a situation where I don’t know what else to write about, but … that’s something I’m working on figuring out right now!
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for the past few days because it feels like I’ve been given permission. It’s hard to shake that old advice about writing what you know. But really, you don’t have to.
Isn’t that nice.