When I was younger, I wanted to write the same kind of stories I had read: historical fiction. A grade eight writing assignment required us to write our own version of The Prince and the Pauper. My story had time travel involved, with the two characters going back and forth between the present (which was the 90s), and the past – which was, I believe Victorian England . . . or earlier. That was my only foray into historical fiction. While it’s still my favourite genre to read, it’s not my forte to write. At least, not yet.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, in my playwriting stage, I wrote semi- and autobiographically. It was my way of processing emotions and exploring who I was as a person.
I have two novels in draft form in my dusty WIP pile. One is an action adventure which may never see the light of day, and the other was my soul crying out. I was lonely when I drafted it. I didn’t feel like I had any friends, and I was comparing myself to everyone who had relationships. It’s evolved in the years since I started drafting it yet I don’t find myself in that same life stage. It’s made it more difficult to return to.
Last summer, I found an old draft and as I read it, I cringed. I had created this protagonist who was everything I wasn’t. She was without fault, and needed to be saved by a man. Gross. I’m grateful to say now that anything I write has women characters with much more agency.
The stories I want to write now are about giving people a voice. I remember the little girl I used to be who was silenced due to shame and expectations. There are so many people who feel they don’t have a voice. Maybe they’ve been told by someone else their voice doesn’t matter.
I want to counter that voice and I want to remove stigma and shame. I do that by talking openly about my bariatric surgery and about my diagnosis of religious trauma and anxiety as well as my recent diagnosis of adult ADHD. The young girl I used to be sometimes speaks up: “we don’t talk about those things. It’s not something that people talk about in public.”
Then I get a message from someone: “thank you for removing the stigma.” Six words. Six words is all it takes to remember that mental health and certain elements of physical health may not have been talked about publicly but we talk about them publicly now.
I have a voice. My voice is important. The stories I tell are important. One of the most important things I say is your stories are important. The stories you want to write are because you have a desire inside you to share something of yourself. You share of yourself in every fiction, fantasy, memoir, or self-help book you write.
What you share means something to someone. Look how many people responded to The Hate U Give. The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Glass Castle. Atlas of the Heart. Share the story you want to write. And if you need help, I’m here.