Fictionalising Reality

Since November the first I’ve been working hard on NaNoWriMo – the challenge of writing a 50,000 word ‘novel’ in one month. (I can’t write novel without the quotation marks, it just sounds too arrogant.)

My theme is mental illness, and more specifically how challenging it can be to live and love someone who struggles with anxiety, depression,and etc. From the day-to-day stuff like leaving the house to moments where you are your wits end trying to work out what’s wrong and what you can do to help your loved one.

They often say that art imitates life, and I am definitely putting a bit of myself into the characters I am creating. I thought that would make it easier somehow. I don’t suffer from false modesty; I am absolutely certain that this novel of mine (oh, I did it) will never be anything worth sharing with others. It being written is my only goal. If 10% of it is well-written, I’ll be absolutely delighted. Even with those  parameters, just write 50,000 words about the every day mental health issues faced by millions, it’s still really hard. Putting down on paper the traits that govern my life, examining how they affect my husband, my friendships, my work life is not as easier as I thought it would be. I find myself reading passages back and finding it unbelievable – and, no, it’s not that badly written. I just find it hard to accept that anyone would buy into these characters, that anyone would believe that people actually behaviour like this when they’re anxious.

It’s an enjoyable, this writing experience. It’s giving me a goal and a focus, but it’s not making it any easier to talk about or accept reality.


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