In the November issue of The Writer, Gabriel Packard asked Helena Maria Viramontes the question, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about writing?” Her answer: “…language can be humanizing…” (6)
Viramontes’ background included dehumanizing language directed toward her and those she loves. I find it inspiring that she turned that around instead of letting the negative beat her. She considers her writing an “offering in honor of humanity.” Beautiful!
I’ve found my writing reflects me in much same way Viramontes’ reflects her. I often joke that no matter how a story begins, I always go dark. When I created my author bio I included my struggle with anxiety and depression. It’s safe to say I suffered from depression as early as the age of 10, though I didn’t know what it was. When I became honest in my writing, I found myself in the language and the characters.
Are my stories autobiographical? No. Are my themes personal? Yes.Grief often worms its way into my narratives. Impulsive and extreme behaviors plague my characters.
Finding myself in the language also helped me define myself as a writer. I’ll always gravitate toward the stories that give readers insight into emotional struggles. Of course, I know everyone has emotional struggles. My goal is to assure people they aren’t alone, even when those struggles are darker than the norm.
Now I challenge my readers to embrace the craziness inside. Personal experience taught me that facing my demons and accepting that I’ll always struggle with them is the only way to remain sane. My characters do some crazy things. I hope that my writing is good enough for readers to understand those crazy things AREN’T mere plot devices, but are based on very real, if somewhat skewed, thought processes.
Packard, Gabriel. “Writers on Writing.” The Writer Nov. 2013: 6-7.