Upon this journey of deep self-discovery, I have also been able to peel back many layers in order to discover the true writer that I knew was buried deep within.
In the months and years since I began work on healing myself, my writing career has experienced the ups and downs of my many moods. Whereas I thought I would be a best-selling author by now, I understand that such a goal is influenced by health, among other factors. In poor health, we may not be able to write with any type of authenticity or sincerity, nor feel like showing up at our accustomed places, ready to create.
Upon this journey of deep self-discovery, I have also been able to peel back many layers in order to discover the true writer that I knew was buried deep within. It feels like it has taken several lifetimes to get to this exact moment and place in life, but in fact it has only been perhaps twenty years.
Most interesting, at least to me, are the incredible changes that have sprouted along the way, like long-forgotten perennials in an untended garden. As my ability to feel happiness and gratitude increased, so did my yearning to write.
Writing itself is a healing process whether we see it or not. There are always hidden pearls of autobiographical information in even the most fantastical works. But over time, as we become more attuned to the mysterious rhythms that guide us, we see our writing as perfect reflections of ourselves at specific times…snapshots, if you will, of a precise moment. And through the careful examination of our work can we see the ongoing changes and discoveries we have made about not only ourselves, but about the world we inhabit as well.
As a writer, I have always fancied myself a teller of dark tales. That continues to hold true, but another facet has emerged that has equally captured my attention.
In my former work as Education Editor for The Good Men Project, I began to realize that I had things to say that could not be as easily conveyed in fiction. Those ideas and theories required a more somber, less fanciful platform. So I began teaching myself the art of creative non-fiction.
Even the most accomplished writers will admit that writing is a neverending education that only stops when we’ve passed into our next reality, whatever that might be. More recently, my writing has been ‘discovered’ by editors and publishers who agree with me that I have something to say, and state it in a way that perhaps nobody else has. This has bolstered my confidence that maybe – just maybe – I won’t be writing for only myself and my dogs for the rest of my life. It would be nice to know that there is a living, breathing audience out there.
When we’re unhealthy, we aren’t able to see things in a positive light. Many have criticized the fact that I chose to take numerous medications to help me through tumultuous times, and what I try to explain – perhaps unclearly – is that without those medications, it’s unlikely that I would ever reach a point in the healing process wherein I could finally see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Medications are not meant to be forever, speaking in terms of my specific malady of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are meant only to allow us the opportunity to heal, to grunt through the horrendously difficult task of healing. Without that assistance, many of us continue to dwell in the dark, wounded recesses of our own minds.
I am eternally grateful for the doctors who strived to guide me in this journey, who didn’t simply throw pills at my illness with impunity. They cared about my recovery and, in doing so, gave me the ability to hope, to see myself as a healed, whole person. Let me tell you, there were innumerable times when I wanted to give up. When I no longer believed that life was worth living.
And with that guidance and the unwavering belief that others placed in my ability to heal, I am writing this today.
That’s fucking huge.
And having reached this moment, have set out to learn how to write meaningful essays to complement my fiction career. The goal I have set is to read and study some of the greatest essay writers and see what makes an engaging and interesting piece of writing.
A photographer friend whom I greatly admire sent me a note the other day of the cover of Best American Essays with a simple message attached that read, You should be in here.
I couldn’t have hoped for better validation than that.