A reader explained in a recent e-mail that she’d been writing in circles about a difficult memory from the past and suddenly things tumbled about in a most amazing way. She realized that in her wheel-spinning, she’d been focusing on all the things that were wrong — things she “didn’t have” that she’d wanted. Then she began to look at the other side of the equation. She considered ways the difficult situation had worked through her life to make her a stronger person and began to see all the things she did have. She realized that the experience had been crucial in forming her into the person she is, and she rather likes the person she is.
Her outlook on life has changed since making this discovery. The way she writes about her life has changed. She has found new joy and passion.
She hadn’t been aware that she was writing for self-discovery. Her original intent was to explain a situation in the hope of helping her children avoid some mistakes others in the family had made. She did not want history to repeat itself! Her struggles resulted in profound insight worth far more than any simple explanation of that past incident.
What happened for her was nothing new or profound. Readers may recognize it as a variation of reframing situations or using life’s lemons to make lemonade. The fact that it isn’t new doesn’t diminish the power. Perhaps you can use this idea yourself. Do you have an old situation that lurks unhappily in your own life? How about exploring that situation to see how it may have benefited you in the long run?
You can look more broadly. Maybe you grew up in an impoverished family and lacked the amenities of life. Have you ever considered ways that early training may have taught you self-sufficiency and given you strength that others may lack? Was that the source of your sense of humor, or compassion? What ways can you find to reframe your life and give it more joy and value?
How could this affect your writing? How can you incorporate these new views into old stories? One way is to write the story as you would have written it earlier and add an afterward explaining how you’ve reframed it. If you’ve already written about the situation, add an afterward now. Your own life will be richer and your readers will learn from your example.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal