It’s Story, and It’s Therapy

My first novel, Finding Cadence, is currently going through developmental editing, Edit One. Unlike the other books I’ve completed, this one is deep, dark, and somewhat depressing, especially at the beginning. I’ve spent a lot of time laboring over this particular story. It took me two full years to write. I have enrolled in writing classes for the express purpose of helping me to find the best way to tell this tale. I’ve researched the minute aspects of the story, using my friends, acquaintances, and employees in my quest to make the story as true as it can be.

This novel has angst, heartache and heartbreak, and an awful lot of bad things occurring to my main character. In the end, however, she pushes through her pain, through the obstacles in her life, to “find” herself. While not based on my life or anything that has happened to me, the story offers a reflection of some of my life experiences. I couldn’t help it; it was my first finished work, and I was the stereotypical writer who folded in every familiar nuance I could think of. You can do the back and forth and compare and contrast me and my life to Cadence and her life, and in many cases, I inserted themes or characters or story lines that were somewhat relevant to me.

Someone once asked me, “Why did you choose to write this story?” (I’m not certain, but I think he was floored by the amount of pain I ladled onto my character.)

Why does anyone choose to write any story?

The main reason is because the writer wants to tell a story, meaning beginning, middle and end, and I have to admit, my initial motivation was just finishing. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m lazy. Two years is a long time to invest in any product. Writing was a way of giving myself a goal and striving to achieve the goal.

Once completed, I realized that, while I had a story, the mechanics were off. Plus, it was way too long. This period marked the initial hatchet job of stripping away thousands of words and changing the voice from third to first person.

After that, we come to the era of giving the story and characters more depth. This is where I am now. I’ve come to see where in order to make an adequate story a great one, I’m going to have to dig deeper inside myself.

But another reason to write, and to write this particular story, is for the therapeutic value. Writing, especially a story like Cadence, is like sitting in a psychiatrist’s office.

I’ve discussed this story and this character with so many people, Cadence has now become real. My characters appear to have some real inner maladjustments. They have been profoundly influenced by their life experiences, which causes their judgement to be clouded and their actions to be flawed.

It’s not just me, but I know people who’ve beta read Finding Cadence who have said they can visualize the characters. We discuss their motivations and their reactions, dissecting them as much as I would have had I sent them into therapy.

In a way, writing is therapy, for ME. I have learned so much, not just about the skill involved in crafting a story, but also in understanding human nature.

Even my own.

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