Writing when life gets tough

I haven’t posted on this blog for quite some time. Life has been very tricky the last seven months. It has been full of ill health (family members), stress, and relationship issues (caused by the ill health and all round stress). It’s made writing blog posts kind of tricky as my head hasn’t been in the right space.

My current WIP though? That, I’ve been able to continue to write. In fact it’s poured out of me. As my own life goes through the wringer, I put my characters through it, too. My pain has at times become their pain. Of course, I don’t give them the same situations to deal with (much too boring) but I do give them angst, and grief, and pain to overcome. In seeing them pull through against the odds it gives me a sense of hope.

The book is about a soldier, and a teacher.They meet and start to fall for one another, but have opposing views on the military and war. Jason is a highly decorated Royal Marine Commando, whilst Scott is a committed peace marcher, resolutely against the war in Afghanistan. When they meet sparks fly.

To do them justice I had to research, particularly for Jason’s character, because while I’ve been a teacher in a past life, I’ve never served in the military. I spent hours watching documentaries about the Royal Marines. About soldiers returning home with PTSD, or missing limbs, and so researching this story also caused me to think about what I do have. To be thankful that whilst I am facing some hard times right now, I’m not dealing with not being able to go shopping because the slabs of meat in the cooler remind me of dead bodies I had to stack in a war zone. I’m not sat behind closed doors every single Guy Fawkes Night, shaking from head to toe because of the bangers that sound far too much like incoming fire. I’m not suffering flashbacks so real I think I am in another place and another time while wide awake. I am not learning to walk all over again without my legs.

When writing this book, I had to decide how deep to go with the PTSD storyline. In the end, I gave my character a milder case. Not because I chickened out of going there with the deeper stuff, that’s going to come in a follow on about a secondary character, but because Jason, as a character, developed a certain way. I want to write in this world farther, explore other characters, and some of these characters will have deeper wounds.

How do other writers feel? Can you write when times are tough? Do you do your best work when under stress, or do you write better when things are on an even keel in your life? If you are going through angst do you write angsty books?

Despite my own writing being all kinds of angst filled right now, my reading matter is light, and fluffy, and fun. There’s got to be a happy place, right? 🙂

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