My Own Harshest Critic

Hate and fear and anger are emotions that can eat you alive. They gnaw on your core, writhe in your gut and poison your thoughts. They turn you into a hollow version of the person you used to be. A pumpkin carved out and emptied, devoid of the seeds that let you grow, with a mask plastered over your features, pretending to be what you wish you were.

I heard from a friend this week that their son has been struggling at school with a teacher that has failed utterly to be an adult. This kid has waded through a very dark time, and finally reached a point that he couldn’t live in that darkness anymore.

All those emotions are still too raw for me. Fourteen years later. I spent four years of high school wading in my own cesspool. Treading water, trying to keep my head above the waves.

When I started writing, I was playing with a little idea and it morphed into something entirely different. Something extremely therapeutic and astonishingly scary. I found in character that I was writing a version of myself, a little piece of me, not the whole thing, but pieces. I saw all those emotions that had grabbed my ankles and threatened to drown me pouring out on the page.

I wrote and wrote and events that had happened transformed into something a little different or something that invoked the same feeling in my character. I found myself asking what would have happened if I had made a different decision than I had and explored that on the pages I was writing.

As I’ve worked on scenes for this book, it’s become very apparent that one of my main characters has fear and hate and anger stored up inside of him. He let his reactions to events in his past take root and he’s nurtured those feelings. It’s become a shield he wears and his motivation. He turned a wound into ferocity. He turned pain into a quest for revenge.

I weep for my friend’s son. Pain like that never leaves us. It can heal, but those scars never completely fade.

I’m still writing, trying to get to the end of this story, trying to figure out what the outcome is going to be for this character. Can his pain heal? Will his scars fade? Will he continue to nurture the thing that is feeding on him, and find that to get what he truly wants, he becomes something else entirely.

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