Use It

My four-year old had school pictures today. Just before we left for school, his finger got closed in a door. He was hurt, panicked, and bleeding, so a quick band-aid and “kiss to make it better” didn’t cut it. Frankly, it was overwhelmingly stressful, and I’ve only come down from the anxiety now, even several hours later. The kid is resting, laying down on my bed with his iPad while I try to collect myself.

Obviously, this is affecting my ability to write. I wouldn’t be able to focus on any writing if I tried. I can barely focus on this blog post, and even if I didn’t find it difficult to write about myself and my thoughts, writing this post is nearly impossible. The only reason I’m able to write this at all is that I think there’s something to learn in this situation.

The title makes it obvious, but this situation, like most in life, can be used in writing. In my opinion, the three things any writer needs to do, in order to write well, are read, write, and live. The first two go without saying, but the third takes some introspection, so let me explain.

Got a flat tire? Remember that frustration next time one of your characters comes across something that’s broken.

Lost a job? That’ll come in handy next time a character is desperate.

Met a new love interest? It could inform a possible romance in a story.

Got punched in the face? I think you understand.

Life is messy, and no one gets through it clean. Neither do the characters of any interesting stories, and the messier our lives get, the more material we have for stories. All fiction has a nugget of truth, and even the least realistic setting requires some verisimilitude. We, as writers, add that believability from our own life experiences. Life isn’t always easy, but even the hardest parts can be useful, and used.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the four-year old just came into my ‘office’ with a smile, and I’m going to play with him.

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