I had worked my way through writing a novel about a dysfunctional family and pair of brothers in a complex relationship. Their lives were filled with jealousy, betrayal, and power struggles. After my climactic scene of Part 2, I had one brother call the other on the phone, only to get his voice mail and leave a message in anger and frustration.
My mentor read the section and called me on the phone.
“They need to have that conversation,” she said. “He can’t avoid the fight.”
Just the thought made me uncomfortable. I’m not a guy who likes conflict.
Every story contains a part of the author. Writers are born haunted people. We work to chronicle life and human emotion. We push our hurt and pain into our words. The old saying is that there’s only seven original stories to tell. The great ones, from the Bible to Shakespeare and Steinbeck, contain deep and powerful conflict.
They also have hope.
Stories allow us to live vicariously through our characters, to test drive solutions, to have arguments we wanted to have with people we may never see again. They allow us to get the last word and, when we empty out our emotions it creates a cathartic moment. We see different angles and empathize in places we may not have before.
Writing allows us to face our demons. Words can heal. They deepen our understanding of life and teach our audience how to be more authentically human. They are a psychic connection of thoughts and images, flow and feelings.
We write to heal ourselves and, by extension, those who honor us by reading our stories. It is not easy but, in the end, it is the most rewarding part of the job.