Whenever anyone suffers a tragedy, the sheer anguish can be overwhelming. It often leads to clinical depression or worse, depending on both the depth of the loss and the strength of the individual facing this misfortune.
No one remains a stranger to this type of life experience. It strikes all of us eventually, on multiple levels, in different ways, at various times.
For writers, once the mourning has turned to reflection, grief can be a source of inspiration, too. It's the healthy alternative to more self-destructive impulses that often plague those afflicted.
Without exploiting the actual event, or over indulging your own perfectly natural reaction, the process of converting heartache into art can be therapeutic not only for the author, but for the reader.
You Are What You Read
Most book browsers online are searching for one of two things: escapism, or education. Both are ways of dealing with reality, whether it’s an effort to temporarily ignore it, or to learn more about it.
This can refer to an endless spectrum of situations, in both fiction and non-fiction. Consumers often seek solace in works that echo their own tribulations, especially if the author conveys a sense of strength and a will to survive by overcoming these obstacles to our well-being.
Self-help books and memoirs aside, the realm of fiction can be just as inspirational and uplifting as their real world counterparts, especially if autobiographical events inform the story.
Mining one’s own life and environment for material is certainly nothing new. Writers from Dickens to Didion have been doing it for centuries. But what makes each case unique are the authors themselves, since no two people, or points of view, are identical.
Even if you’re reading a story or book by someone with whom you do not share a common background or worldview, a truly authentic, organically conceived piece of writing can still instill empathy and provide edification for the reader, opening up new channels of comprehension and compassion, and perhaps preparing them for similar challenges somewhere down the line in their own lives.
"I Feel You"
The impetus for your piece doesn’t have to be something as deeply disturbing as a fatal illness or a life-altering accident. Something as seemingly simple and commonplace as the death of a pet can offer a wellspring of emotional resonance within an audience that appreciates the sentiment.
Basically, anyone that has lived an ordinary life can relate to the distress and disappointment of separation from loved ones, the dejection of dreams, and the fear of facing the unknown.
These are things that bond us as a species, and art has always been a popular way of addressing these universal anxieties.
If you can turn your private pain into a public platform for profit, all the better, not just for you, but the many souls you touch by sharing your story, whether disguised as imaginative fiction or conveyed in raw confessional form.
We all want to attribute meaning or designate a reason for chaos and calamity, whether it’s untimely fatality, the breakup of a relationship, the rejection of your work, or just the state of society in general that gets you down.
Writing is a very effective coping mechanism, and even if it’s not a source of income, it can be a great source of comfort to you and your readers in times of stress and sadness.
No matter what hardship you are forced to confront, you are not alone. That is the healing power of literature, or any form of personalized art.
PHOTO: ANTONIO LIRIO