How Writing Has Changed My Life
![[../images/prin_1.png]] You may not write fiction, but we all tell ourselves stories. I struggled with my story for most of my life. I was 33 years old when I quit my job to write full time and despite having a life and a family, I felt like I was not much more than a pile of likes, dislikes, and responsibilities. Tani, One of the Characters in Song of Sundering, Emerged Unexpectedly.
Created Aug 20, 2022 - Last updated: Aug 21, 2022
You may not write fiction, but we all tell ourselves stories. I struggled with my story for most of my life. I was 33 years old when I quit my job to write full time and despite having a life and a family, I felt like I was not much more than a pile of likes, dislikes, and responsibilities.
Tani, One of the Characters in Song of Sundering, Emerged Unexpectedly.
I had not planned for her. She had no place in the story–but she quickly made a place for herself and evolved into one of the dominant characters. There is the old writing advice to avoid self-inserts. But, what about the self-revealing character? Tani is, at very least, a part of me. An aspect of the multitudes we all carry. In a way, all my characters are. But, Tani proved to be special.
After years of my life spent doing what I “should” do, it was this strange anti-social character that led me down the path of what I needed to do. She also taught me about who I am. Tani is autistic, although I did not realize this when I was writing her. A year after she emerged as a character in my writing, my daughter received her ASD diagnosis. Three months after my daughter was diagnosed, so was I.
At this point, I was heavy into the editing process for the novel and I realized I had been living in a state of autistic burnout for years.
I haven’t told many people about my diagnosis. In fact, outside of my husband, one friend, and the therapists and other professionals my daughter and I have worked with since her diagnosis last year, I haven’t told anyone. I dropped a few hints to my sister… That did not go well. Black & white thinking runs in my family, and perhaps autism does too. But, I don’t think they would benefit from that knowledge.
I didn’t hate COVID, like most people. I was well over a year into self-imposed social isolation before I missed being around people other than my husband and kiddo. I am pretty sure I have entirely forgotten how to people, despite spending thousands of hours learning about people and how they work (a compensation for my inability to socialize instinctively — I have to practice it like an intellectual exercise).
Now, everyone is excited to be free to move about–to go to movies, dinners, activities. Since I got fully vaccinated three months ago, I have been out… twice. I used to feel terrible about my lack of energy to socialize. Now, I recognize that my self-care has to come before I can care for the things I love. From family, to writing.
We all have different things we need. I need noise cancelling headphones. Maybe you need to be surrounded by friends all talking and having a great time. I need time to explore topics that interest me. Maybe you need to hang out with a friend and make a podcast. I need deep 1:1 connections with people. You may be the same, or maybe you need a throng of friends.
Tani was a little voice inside me, telling me she was important. I trusted her, and she changed my life. Through her strength, I found mine. I have improved my physical and mental health. I have improved my relationships.
Who is your unwritten character, just waiting to tell their story?
Trust in what you love and it will take you where you need to go.