While I'm not one to talk, considering my past is full of blemishes (not by my own causing unfortunately), I had to sit back and actually think about how I got to be who I am today. Why am I so positive? Why am I not a druggie, an alcoholic, someone living off of the state/welfare, with twelve kids and ten baby-daddies? How did I make it out ... ok? By statistics standards, I shouldn't be alive. I shouldn't be here! Shouldn't be so happy or so positive.
I grew up in foster care from the day I was born, until I was adopted at 13. Can't say everything was perfect even after that, but I can't discuss that - unfortunately. I don't think I'll ever be able to openly discuss what happened - but I can in my writing.
Do you ever read something and wonder if the author was able to write about it so vividly because they went through that experience? How does a writer get so much angst in their writing? How do they detail everything so perfectly? Research can only get you so far; sure it can help you explain the situation and the circumstance, but it can't really put you IN the situation.
When I was writing The Kindness of Strangers, I could feel everything as it was happening to Sydney. Flashbacks. I could sense the urgency of the situation. I tried my darndest to share the frustration, that pain, or whatever emotion that was happening in the scene. Some of the reviewers even picked up on that, which tells me I did my job and I think I did it well.
In the book, Sydney stays positive. Stays true to herself and depends on herself. Even when someone is there to offer a helping hand, she doesn't always take it right away. She has to feel like she's doing it on her own and failing before she reaches out for help. I guess you could say that's me.
As a kid, I stayed in my own world, my own thoughts and whatever happened to me - happened to me alone. I didn't take my pain and frustration out on anyone. It was only when I couldn't handle it anymore that I would give in and seek help. Perhaps The Kindness has a little more of me than I actually wanted it to.
While writing anything else, I will sometimes get into this 'writers mode' where I tune everything out and just let whatever thoughts I'm having come out - without even realizing the thoughts were ever there. I sometimes go back a few days later to see where I left off, and I'm shocked at what depth there is in that particular piece. Did I really write this? I always think afterward. Not that I'm tooting my own horn, because I'm not. There are times I've gone back and cringed at what was written - total crappola!
My question to you is, how much of you is really in your writing pieces? Do you take past experiences and infuse them in to your work? Does writing help you feel better, like a therapy session? Do you ever get into 'writer's mode'?