This is a topic that is a little hard to pinpoint. However, I have personally been told for years that I need to record my emotions when I’m feeling something intense so that I can tap into that emotion later when I’m writing a character that may experience the same thing. A life reflection as if were for an author through their character.
For a huge majority of situations, I agree.
For me personally, I have a journal like book for where I store all my story ideas, plot twists, and poems. Some ideas have been written elsewhere and later taped inside this journal book. However, among the pages I have recorded my thoughts and feelings after breakups, I’ve wrote recaps of first dates. I have written of situations of where I’ve been terrified due to someone attempting to break into my home while I was home. I taken time to sit outside and do a writing exercise of what it is like to be there: what my thoughts, feelings, and what I physically see and hear. I do honestly believe this helps create a more realistic experience to come through your writing.
But the hardest writings I have ever recorded has been of my grandparents passing.
I am writing this entry on the same evening of my best friend’s grandfather’s passing, so you are reading a near emotional entry for me. I liked the man. Each time I met him, he wanted to know personally how I was and would ask questions about my family. He didn’t write me off as just a friend of his granddaughter, but genuinely wanted to visit with me. I know my friend is in for a hard night and the next several days ahead. My heart aches for her and her family. I’m thankful that she has her husband, her family and friends to be there for her.
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has said many times that grief is personal. I agree with him. It’s a journey that comes in waves. One day you can be laughing and joking about what that person has said or done, and another day, you remember the way they smile and suddenly the tears won’t stop. It has been twelve years since my grandmother passed and not yet two years since my grandfather. With both of their deaths, I wrote basically a play by play of when I was informed and immediately of what followed or in my grandpa’s case, I was there with him when he went. To this day, it is very hard to read those entries, but I’m grateful I did. Those moments were some of the worst moments of my life, but it was a part of me. It shows my hurt, my anger, and my love. I even noted all those around me and what they said for comfort.
These two entries were written because writing is an outlet for me. However, these entries will never be made public because it is personal. I may reread them with the idea that I want to tap into that moment to help express for a character to relate, but it won’t be the same. Our characters may begin as part of us, but their story takes them on a different path with situations that we may personally never be in or would react the same. The sorrow may be felt on near the same level, but our reactions will be different from our characters.
It is helpful to write of our experiences to use for our books, but I do suggest for you to pause when you write of grief. No two people will be affected the same way.
To my friend if you read this entry, I know my grief is nothing compare to what you are experiencing right now, but I’ll be beside you, mourning as well. I liked your grandfather. I know he was stubborn at times, but remember his smiles. Remember his laugh. Think of the good times you got to share with him. It won’t make the pain go away, but it’ll make it feel less. Every thought you remember of him, he’ll be with you. You have a long road ahead of you, but you are not alone. Remember that.
L. R. Mauck