As writers, we tend to be more sensitive to various events in life whether in our own lives or in the lives of others; and because of this sensitivity, certain events- specifically those that involve losses- hit writers exceptionally hard.
Why is that so?
Speaking from personal experience, I consider myself an empath and tend to internalize emotions from others around me which at times would threaten to overwhelm me so what do I usually do? I run from them. I’ve done it so many times in the past (during the deaths of my maternal grandmother and first husband for examples). Stifling my own emotions, not allowing them to surface, I believe affected me as a writer especially when it came to developing realistic characters. How can a character be “real” when she’s not allowed to feel? After all, readers are drawn to these types of characters. And why is that?
Because readers can relate to them.
So, many of my stories tend to fall short with characters coming across as “flat” or too one-dimensional. The desire and passion to become the best writer that I can be keep growing within me to the point that it became louder than my own fears of emotions.
I forced myself to face them when my daddy died. Internally I kept going back and forth with excuses as to why I couldn’t go to the hospital and be with my family on my dad’s final night. I so wanted to run. But, I didn’t. Not this time. It was probably the most difficult thing I ever had to face, watching my daddy take those last agonizing breaths, listening to my mom and siblings weeping next to me. I thought for sure it would overwhelm me, but it didn’t. The emotions I felt was a deep sadness as well as gratitude. I was so grateful that I was there for my daddy, and for my family. I thought for sure that their pain would force me to run; instead, I found myself hugging each one of them. I even kissed my daddy’s forehead after he had passed as I said my final goodbye.
Now I can tell myself (and other writers) this: it is okay to be afraid of your emotions, of your pain (or of others’), but don’t run from them. They have a way of caching up to you. It is easier to face them head-on, and acknowledge them for what they truly are. By doing this, it would enable you to write a more fully developed characters that your readers can relate to.
“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.”-Saint Bartholomew