Glad, mad, break up with a cad? Buck up and use it

My friend Tess Hardwick, author of Kindle Daily favorite Riversong, recently blogged about an unfortunate episode of maternal disorganization and how terribly she felt about the anxiety her forgetfulness caused her daughters. Like many aspiring and successful writers, Tess is juggling multiple real world responsibilities while working toward her dream: becoming a(n even more) successful author. I bet you think I’m about to discuss the challenges of living an overwhelming life. WRONG.

Oh, I concur, our worlds are busy and challenging. Divided attention is frustrating, and the bustle and demands bring their own burden (and wonder!) to the table. All these issues intertwine and distract us from our confidence and desire to push forward against all odds.

We ask, “Am I good enough? Have I let others down? Will I make it? Can I gain my balance, click my heels and become that perfect combination of successful tweeter, blogger, writer, friend, sister, wife, daughter, mother?” Probably not.

Well, to clarify, we may not become the perfect example of s/he who has managed, against all odds, to excel at everything we undertake. Who cares? Perfection was never the goal. The truth is, we learn more from our mistakes than we do from what we do right. In more ways than one.

Life’s wrong turns and detours are a Petri dish of regurgitatable (note questionable word) emotions. We typically don’t want to re-live or explore bad mojo. We don’t want to feel the difficult feelings more than once. We don’t want to return to the crappy, dark places.

But there’s something positive and important we can do with the pain AND the progress: Use our emotions in our work. Every screw-up, every downturn, every success, loss, win and broken heart is personal research we can draw upon and emote through our characters to enrich our readers’ experience. Poopy stuff + anguish + misery + joy = major book sales. Reality: If you can’t – or don’t – feel, how will your protagonist deal?

You’re writing the story, after all.

I think we’re all trying to find our way home. And a few wrong turns simply add depth to our character’s lives, if not our own. I know, easy for me to say. This is my blog, these are my thoughts.


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13 Responses to Glad, mad, break up with a cad? Buck up and use it

  1. Scott July 5, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    Is “poopy stuff” an official industry term? 😉

    Great post. Great fiction is fed by real-world experience, big and small.

  2. Tess Hardwick July 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Love this post. Yours, in imperfection,

  3. Johanna July 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I love it! Glass half-full!

  4. D.B. Smyth September 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Love this! Thanks Molly!

  5. Galit Breen October 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Yes, this- exactly this. Hat tip Molly, truly.

    • Molly Greene October 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      Thank you so much, Galit!

  6. February 2, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Amen! My novel Searching for My Wand is filled with emotions both good and bad that have been a part of my life.

  7. Rae Ellen Lee March 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Oh Molly m’dear. How true. Bad choices can make good books. I have written three books, from choices that turned out to be inappropriate for me. The key is to survive one’s bonehead decisions, and keep a journal!!! And, of course, laugh at oneself!

    Thanks for reminding us that it’s all right, in the end, and can sometimes be turned into gold.

    Rae Ellen

  8. Heather Dugan March 30, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    Viewing the rougher parts of life as “material” can be a big boost to the healing process, I think.

  9. Emily April 19, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    Love it. So true. Glad I found your blog too 🙂

  10. Doreen Pendgracs May 14, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    Terrific post. I don’t write fiction, but I’ve certainly had my bumps along the road and keep wondering why I’m having these challenges out before me. A little smooth sailing would be really nice!

    But as my older and wiser brother has said, if life was too easy, we wouldn’t learn anything from it.

    I think the core of your point is to encourage our life’s learning into our writing, and I certainly try to do that. Thanks for connecting on Twitter.

  11. Lee-Anne April 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    So true! Good suffering makes for such good writing/reading (as opposed to happy prose which is a bit bland).