Finding Freedom in Writing Fiction

This morning, like most mornings, I awoke short of breath, with a tight chest, a sick feeling in my stomach and the unsettling sensation that something wasn’t quite right.  If you also suffer from anxiety, you know exactly what I’m talking about-that inexplicable feeling that something is wrong, yet you just can’t figure out what-aside from the terrible, sickening nervous feeling that has risen from the pit of your gut and up towards your chest-it is. To combat my anxiety, and in lieu of Zoloft, I have taken to walking, and, surprisingly, it has worked.  The terrain around my home is very hilly, and, as I begin to pump up my first hill of the morning, I actually feel the anxiety begin to dissipate.  My breathing becomes deep and steady, my thoughts settle and I find a bit of peace.  Up until quite recently, this forty-five minute morning ritual has relaxed me enough so that I can get through my days without any major anxiety.  But, a few weeks ago, things changed.  Ginger, my four-legged walking companion, was attacked by a German Shepard who busted through his electric fence.  A week later she was bit again on the neck by another savage mongrel, who was left to wander loose on his front lawn because, according to his owner, their electric fence wasn’t working properly. On each of these occasions, both Ginger and I were fortunate enough that the owners, once they heard my screams, scurried out of their homes and to our rescue. Unfortunately, my walks no longer have the calming effect they once did; rather, they have become angst inducing. 

What I want is rather simple.  I want to be able to take a walk without dodging, and rerouting and worrying about being attacked by neighborhood dogs.   I want the freedom to just pick a direction and go.  This walk situation has me feeling rather fenced in, literally and figuratively speaking.  So often we are deterred and forced to shift directions because of outside forces and influences.  So often we are told we can’t.  So often we are told we can only go so far.  I look at my own life and am appalled by how often I am blocked, not only by outside influences, situations and people, but also by myself.  I have plans and dreams and ideas, but I allow fear and the nagging voices of others as well as myself to stop me from following through with what I truly want to do.  I want to travel, but I don’t because I am afraid to fly.  I want to contribute to conversations, but sometimes I don’t because I am afraid that others will disagree.  I want to move away to a place with more land and fewer people, but I am afraid to break the hearts of those family members who would be left behind.   Actually, I want the freedom to make lots of decisions and head in lots of metaphorical directions without feeling fenced in or forced to revise my original plans. 

I started to think, “How can a writer have so many inhibitions?”  As a primarily non-fiction writer, so much of what I have to say is drawn from personal experience, yet, because I don’t want to hurt or offend or steal the history of others by weaving their experiences into my greater narrative, my stories never get told. I am not at a loss for words or ideas;  I just don’t feel free to say what it is I want to say.  And I think that for this reason, I have begun to find fiction writing so liberating. I am in no way implying that fiction writing is merely “fictionalizing” real people and events by changing names, dates and settings to present true stories as a creative works.  No.  Fiction writers use their accute awareness of the human condition to craft artistic works. The beauty of ficton writing is that  writers can face their fears of flying and dogs by having their characters confront that which frightens them (the writers).  Fiction writers can, through their characters, confront pompous asses, narcissists and psychotics who loosely resemble the pompous asses, narcissists and psychotics we must contend with in the real world.  Fiction writing allows the writer to face worse case scenarios and realize the possibility that for every situation there are options and alternate solutions.  Even better, fiction writers can create characters that speak the words, do the things and travel to the places we are too afraid to go.  In fiction we can find freedom.

7 thoughts on “Finding Freedom in Writing Fiction

  1. We must be related…you write for me of my fears, frustations and handicaps.

    I know exactly how you feel about walking in peace. I think going to a gym is a better option for me. Or I carry a stick when walking in the nieghborhood. I am so tired of inconsiderate people.

    As for anxiety, i have found that my antihistamine zyrtec helps calm my nervous system. I only take half; a whole pill leaves me drowsy the next day.

    About moving location but tied to family…many of us live with this dilemma.
    Can you take the most important people with you? trying to keep so many others happy is a challenge. I foresee myself moving in a few years and will be struggling to cope with it all.

    I love your position and perspective on fiction writing. I wish i could escape a few real characters in my life. My imagination wont let me go far enough to escape them entirely. Ah, but reading lovely blogs like yours helps… some. 🙂

    • Oh my goodness Steph! I just wrote you a response and somehow deleted it! Sometimes I drive myself crazy!!! Unless I inadvertently sent it to you…and if that’s the case, please disregard this one!

      First, I wanted to thank you for reading my posts and for the compliment on Stargazing. I greatly admire your work and feel you are a very talented poet, so I am flattered that you like what you read on my site.

      I never knew that antihistamines can quell anxiety. It does make sense though. Next time I find myself in the throes of angst, I am going to give it a try!

      As for moving, I suspect that you are like me and feel responsible for others’ happiness. It’s so difficult to move from those who are so reliant, but the happiness of others is a heavy burden to shoulder. It’s funny you should ask if I could take the most important (my parents) with me. I think we will have to.

      Are you working on any fiction? You make an excellent point about not being able to escape the real characters in your life. I can’t. They show up in my fiction…only, in that context, I like to convince myself that I am in control given that I’m holding the pen…but that is completely debatable. LOL.

      Anyway, I am so looking forward to reading more of your work!
      – -Heather

  2. Heather, i think u did delete the first entry. hahaa…i think the cyber quirkies are taking over our minds…as well as our computers.

    I am not working on any fiction at the present. It takes me a long time to write anything and I do many editings before I go final. I write more to keep my brain working…so i dont go into dementia from rusty neurons. 🙂

    Actually i dont use my work as a catharsis…if i did ..truly pieces would be too dark to share..i would scare all my readers and myself.

    I hope you are able to take your parents with you and allow yourself the freedom to find your own happiness.

    Thank you for the compliment. I dont think of myself as a poet or a writer. I guess I think of myself as a creative word shuffler. lol 🙂

    Because I spend alot of time alone I think my writing is my sounding board to bounce thoughts and feelings back to myself and find how I can reintegrate them.

    I look forward to sharing more with you, Heather, my new found-friend. 🙂

    • Ok Steph. Here we go again. Already lost one message I attempted to send. Ughhhh!!!!!! Anyway, I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t write, I’d talk to myself way too much…LOL….seriously though. What I find strange about writing is that the final product is never what I intend. It’s as if the subconscious takes over and sorts through all the thoughts and emotions and crafts something out of all that. In that regard. I guess you could liken writing to dreaming. I don’t know. Whatever it is, the process always gives me some sense of peace. How about you ?

  3. impromptu writing is fun…just type and let the fingers decide where they wanna take the mind. i kinda like what i wind up with..sometimes.

    I speak alot to myself already…kinda sad but I guess i do need someone to hear me before i go looney. 🙂
    If i didnt speak or write i think i’d go into a trance of somnambulism…where the brain dies down from disuse.

    whatever it takes to keep me alert I will do even if it means forcing myself to write because some days i am rather lazy and would rather just read or watch an old movie.

    but, sometimes i think of all the bloggers…all of us talking ..and it kinda disturbs me…like what is this obsession we have with verbalizing everything that goes thru our heads and hearts?
    Cant we just be content to just be…?

    • I completely get your point about having to verbalize everything. When I first started my blog it was initially very different-mainly essays about parenting. But then the whole thing started to feel incredibly narcissistic. I started to ask myself why the hell should I think I was soooo important that anyone would give a sh– what I have to say. Then I started working on poetry and that felt right. At least with that, I’m creating something…even if it’s not always so great, at least I feel like I’m producing something. I do love to read poetry and writing blogs, but some of the other stuff I still find extremely self-indulgent.

      As for just being-I just can’t. Too many racing thoughts, too mush anxiety. I have to channel it into something.

      Anyway, I’m off to catch up on some
      recent blog posts. I haven’t had a chance to read them in a few days. And, after that, I’m working through T.S. Eliot’s Collected works. Every few years I revisit them. God, I love him as a poet…now, as a person, that’s another thing entirely. Lol. It amazes me how some of our most brilliant artists who create the most beautiful work can be, in some ways, lousy human beings. Oh well. Here’s to reading great poetry!

  4. Hiya, i think this blog of mine is pretty much about self indulgence. But, i dont expect anyone to read my shit. It is just my personal old blather and anyone is welcome to like it or leave it.

    I would love to spend more time reading as well but too many other pressing matters at the present. I try to avoid following too many blogs so I dont let my time get too distracted from higher priorities.

    I wish you happy writing pleasures. It is perfectly okay to write about yourself. Write for your own self expression but if you like to write about the sunsets that is okay too. 🙂

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