My dear husband was doing some photo editing of a shoot he did for me the other day. One of the photos struck him in a particular way and over it, he put the words: Write through the pain. This profoundly moved me for it perfectly described exactly what I have done throughout my life. Whenever I was in pain, I turned to writing. Some of my best work has been during some of my darkest days.
The interesting thing is that my writing often relates very little to the specific pain. It often addresses previous hurts or fears of the future; it rarely speaks to the present. For example, as I work on The Troubled Psychologist, the pain in it reflects nothing of the current pain in my life. The current pain is loss. The story may touch on loss, but it is not the focus.
Still, I find that in my new effort to write consistently, I feel emotionally much better. I feel better physically too, but that may just be the positive lifestyle changes I have been able to make recently. I wouldn’t be surprised though that writing is partially responsible simply for the fact that it relieves a great deal of stress. I don’t need to write about the pain; I do need to write through it. Whatever bad or good comes along, I endure it best with a pen in my hand.
I forgot about that, though. I neglected it. I let the muscle atrophy and therefore I experience pain from the regenerating of that muscle. But it’s a good pain, the kind that at the end of the day, I can go: Yep, it took a lot of effort, but it was totally worth it.
Writing through the pain keeps the stories fresh; they lose less of the ring of reality when I write from a raw place. Sometimes that means there’s a bit of a hard edge to what I write, but I have to admit that the hard edge brings a great deal of healing. It allows me to share the difficult fact that the world around us is not as bright and cheery as we try to believe it is. I looked that truth in the eye for a long time in my previous line of work and if I don’t let it out now and then, it begins to consume me. When I write through the pain, I stop myself from taking on the darkest parts of myself and humanity by myself. It’s not easy, but it’s far better than the alternative.