Recipe for misery

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“If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you and what people think of you.” -Charles Kingsley

Last week I wrote a post about why I hate writing. In a nutshell, I wrote that I hate writing because sometimes writing hurts. Self examination and reflection can be very painful at times, and seeing your shortcomings right there in black and white can be pretty ouchy. But writing (or any other creative pursuit) doesn’t always have to be about self-reflection, and I would go far to say that if that’s all your writing is about, it makes for self-indulgent and narcissitic reading. Redemptive writing comes when you allow yourself to relive the pain so that others might be healed by it, or at the very least, know that they are not alone in their struggle.

As my bloggy pal Sharkbait pointed out so well in the comments section of the aforementioned post:

I think part of the problem is that writing often usually leads to truth. And truth is often not pretty, and can be painful at first.

But as a (bad) writer, I often find that one of the biggest misconceptions is that writing is supposed to hurt. People seem to think that writing leads to depression, alcoholism, anti-social tendencies, suicide and poverty. At some point in history we stopped giving artists permission to be fulfilled and happy with their art.

I fight this in my writing class, I fight this in my writers groups, I fight this every time I try to convince someone that writing is not selfish and pointless, and to give themselves permission to try it.

The writing we do, often is about “piercing a vein to let the poison out”. And thus often is painful, and necessary.

But it is dangerous, I think, to start thinking that because it is painful and necessary, that the pain is necessary.

*Editor’s note: Sharkbait is NOT a bad writer. He’s actually quite good. He challenges me and makes me think. I dig that.

This post is part of the blog carnival on Healing, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

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