The Benefits of Tragedy

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dios4vida
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The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by dios4vida » July 20th, 2010, 2:17 pm

I’ve been musing lately on how unlikely my life would be had it not been for the tragedies I’ve lived through. It sounds strange, but trust me. I couldn’t do what I do everyday if my life was all sunshine and roses.

I was born with a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. In a nutshell, my collagen (which is the main ingredient in your tendons, ligaments, skin, and the linings of many organs) is super-delicate and prone to breaking. This leaves all of my joints hypermobile and several are permanently damaged. I’ve had three surgeries on my wrists and I wear braces on my wrists, knees, and left ankle just to stabilize them. I can hardly walk without my leg braces. It’s a debilitating and incredibly painful condition which has in turn led to stomach ulcers, migraines, and fibromyalgia. So as you can tell, my body is pretty much a mess.

On top of the physical struggles I’ve dealt with, I had an emotional blow at a relatively young age as well. When I was 20, my best friend (and the man I thought I would marry) was killed in a car accident. For a long time afterward I was a depressed, bitter wreck of a person. I couldn’t believe that I’d finally found someone whom I loved so much just to have him taken from me. It was a really difficult time for me.

The whole point of these stories isn’t to garner sympathy, but to show you that I really know what I’m talking about. I’ve had to deal with tragedy in my life. I have to deal with it on a continual basis as more of my body fails and I lose the use of more joints. I won’t lie, it’s still hard. It still sucks, and I still cry and wail about the unfairness of it all. But I’ve also begun to see that it isn’t all negative, either.

If my body was fully functional, I would still have a job. I’d probably still have the same crappy job I had before my second wrist surgery. But now I don’t – can’t – work. And as writers, you guys understand that this is actually a good thing! I spend most of my days in the spare bedroom of our house (my office) and write. I have a lifestyle that most people only dream of – I can sleep in, work in my pajamas, and play with imaginary friends all day long on the pages of my books. I couldn’t ask for more.

But I do have more! People say to ‘write what you know’ – well, I know pain, suffering, and loss. Quite intimately. So when my characters have to go through something horrible (which we all know they do), I can write from experience. I can draw upon real, honest emotions to pour onto the page. My writing rings of genuine feelings and reactions. The pain in my life makes my writing richer, truer, and deeper. It’s a gift that I’m incredibly grateful for.

I know many of you out there have suffered just as much or more than I have. I sympathize with every pain and loss that’s been forced upon you. I really do. These are the kinds of things that no one should have to deal with. But since we have, let’s make the most of it. Pour that suffering onto the page. It’s cathartic and makes for compelling reading.

What more could a writer ask for?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Quill
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by Quill » July 20th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Not to mention that you live in Tucson. Just kidding. At least it's not Phoenix.

Lot of truth in what you say. If my life was a bed of roses I bet I wouldn't even want to write. I wouldn't be motivated. What would I write about. My writing would be stilted without my personal experiences of conflict, loss, and disillusionment. It would be all "would you like to have some tea?"

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dios4vida
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by dios4vida » July 20th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Quill wrote:Not to mention that you live in Tucson. Just kidding. At least it's not Phoenix.
In my defense, I'm a native Tucsonan and I actually live in Corona de Tucson, 15 miles to the south and at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains. And yes, it's not Phoenix. Where exactly are you?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Quill
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by Quill » July 20th, 2010, 2:59 pm

Prescott area.

Jsee
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by Jsee » July 20th, 2010, 3:05 pm

Hey there! I DO live in Phoenix :)

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dios4vida
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by dios4vida » July 20th, 2010, 3:10 pm

Jsee wrote:Hey there! I DO live in Phoenix :)
I'm sorry. :-P I think I forgive you, as long as you aren't an ASU fan.

And Quill, it's gorgeous up by Prescott. I love it there.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

Down the well
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by Down the well » July 20th, 2010, 3:19 pm

dios4vida wrote:People say to ‘write what you know’ – well, I know pain, suffering, and loss.
I always take this to mean write what you know is true. There's no doubt what you've been through must seep into your writing. Not just the physical experience of it, but the emotional too. It makes for honest writing. I don't think the Harry Potter books would have been nearly as interesting if Rowling hadn't worked out some of her own pain on the page.

I know you didn't write this post to get sympathy, but you get it anyway. *hugs*

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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by AnimaDictio » July 21st, 2010, 8:00 am

dios4diva, it's brave to write so honestly about your life. I find it inspiring. I lived in Sierra Vista for 6 months, once, when I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca.

I too have experienced pain. For years, my caretakers were abusive. It was a time of great sorrow and shame, for me. It would be in poor taste to go into more detail than that. My coping mechanism was to leave home at a young age, reinvent myself and dissociate from anything connected to that life.

However, while in the military, I discovered some things about myself that I am sure can be traced directly to the pain I overcame as a child. I was more powerful than my peers, powerful enough, actually, to help my peers. Sometimes I withstood by letting my mind go to another place. But when other soldiers cried in fear, I became a very effective voice of encouragement. Or when the others were frozen and didn't know how to respond, I was quick and strategic. I became a leader. One drill sergeant, whose job it was to make us despair (in training), admitted to me one day how infuriating my constant smiling was to him. And when the time came to stand up to our Command Sergeant Major, everyone looked to me. I had become known as fearless.

So, one benefit of tragedy is the power with which it can imbue you. As that relates to writing, I would say that my "fearless" heroes are less James Bond (artificial) and more John Rambo (flawed, but resilient). I can do emotional strength really well. Similarly, I'm pretty good at describing secret cruelties. And I think it has helped me write humor into grim scenes. But, most importantly, I would never be a writer at all if I hadn't needed some way to cope during those years when there was no escape for me. Words were (are) my rapture.

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dios4vida
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Re: The Benefits of Tragedy

Post by dios4vida » July 23rd, 2010, 12:22 pm

Thanks guys for the encouragement. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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