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  • Kerry Chaput

A Writer's Truth



Margaret Atwood says that if you have writer's block you are afraid of something. Why then, do we choose the stories that make us face our biggest fear?


I'm nearing the end of the first rewrite of my Depression-era work in progress. It's been a struggle. Some stories are like that. They give you only a tiny glimpse into their world and seem to hold out on you... day in and day out. My protagonist was really hard to get a handle on. I would write a scene and erase it. Take a direction, then start over again.


Why was this one so hard? Well, I had a wonderful meeting with my critique partner and she helped me get to the bottom of it. "Who was she?" she asked. I explained her fears, her hopes. She said "No, who is she? At her core."


Truthfully, I had no idea.


And there it was. My problem. The reason I wasn't able to hear her. I wasn't listening.


Whether you believe in the mystical power of stories as their own entities or as a product of our internal selves, storytelling holds such power that it can change you. As a reader and a writer. I hadn't dipped down into the place to discover my protagonist because she is a part of me I didn't understand. She represents trauma and fear and I don't know that I really wanted to understand it.


But I kept showing up. And I finally asked the question. Who are you without the trauma?


She started to speak to me. The next day. She showed me her true self. Or was it my true self? Didn't matter. As a writer, these worlds come from somewhere inside of you. I still don't know if they are created solely from my imagination or if they are real somewhere and just chose me.


We often write to heal a part of ourselves that needs exploring. Same as why we read, I suppose. I had to really rip open some dark places that I have long since shut the door on. Because healing doesn't happen in a moment. It happens over time. In pieces. As your psyche can handle it.


Healing is stripping your world down to the bare truth of it all. And that is fucking terrifying.


This story may get published. It may not. But right now, it's healing me and maybe that's the whole point.

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