I’ve got friends that I’ve known over forty years, and occasionally we drift down Memory Lane recalling events from wayback, both good and bad. The idea has always seemed to be that “the unexamined life wasn’t worth living” so we would spend hours dissecting past events, trying to see how they impacted on our beliefs, our biases or our values. Often this was accompanied by a feeling of regret, that If only things had been different, our lives would now be easier.
When this meme turned up, it really made me assess that, and I suddenly realized I should have no regrets. My past has shaped the writer that I am and that’s something to feel immensely grateful for. If I hadn’t had frightening things happen to me, euphoric things, crazy things, sad things, bad things, I wouldn’t be able to create characters who could authentically live through the everyday traumas (and some extraordinary ones) that most people expect out of life, and fiction.
Losing someone you love, feeling desperately alone, longing for something you can never have, the terror of opening your heart to love, the euphoria of feeling loved, the security of family, of girlfriends, and the heartbreakingly poignant experience of bearing and raising children.
All these things and so many more are in my past. I don’t live there anymore. But my characters do. And this is one of the most delicious parts of being a writer – having characters become real on the page and watching them go through life-changing transformations, with all the emotional upheaval that entails.
I’ve just finished writing book 3 of my Husband Series, HUSBAND HEEL, and this one has really put me through the wringer! Louella’s story was hard to write because it’s so emotional. I should have seen that coming. Repressed people usually have spectacular meltdowns when the proverbial finally hits the fan. But despite the exhaustion of writing such deep emotional scenes, it’s been so lovely to see her soften and grow as a person. And sexy! Wow, I had no idea she’d be so uninhibited (neither did her bodyguard Nick!), so that was a real revelation.
My past is obviously not dead. It’s very much alive and living through my characters and their thrilling experiences. But I can honestly say I don’t live there anymore. I don’t dwell on the past or wonder about it at all unless someone brings it up. I think that’s healthy. I hope that’s healthy.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, your experiences with accepting and even feeling grateful for the past. We’re all on this rollercoaster ride of life together, and I’m eager to learn from others…