1. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA

    Writing Your Own Demons Out...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jan 30, 2016.

    And I thought I had already achieved the crown of ‘strangest thread ever created here’...

    OK, y'know how sometimes authors write stories to deal with their inner demons? Well, this is one of them, and I don't know how to approach it.

    Long story short, I was cyber-bullied when I was in high school. The history forum I often so complained about, that's where I was cyber-bullied. By a British man old enough to be my father (56 at the time), who kept giving me crap because I was American. Saying that because I was American, I had no right to an opinion, that I lacked the capacity to even hold an opinion, that, to quote him, “There is no removing the glasses of arrogance from the Americans.” Would go on anti-American rants whenever he had the chance, no matter the subject. It could've been about what underwear George Washington wore, and he'd still find some way to ram in a rant about how Americans were the scum of the Earth, and he would play the victim whenever he was called out on it, claiming it was an American bias against him.

    I didn't think that would affect me, but apparently it did. In short, any perceived slight against Americans or the US sparked off my fight-or-flight response and gave me flashbacks to that British guy I hadn't talked to years now. Made me ashamed to want to write stories set in America about Americans. This guy really kind of effed up everything to be honest... He was the reason I left the forum in the first place. The reason I keep talking shit about the forum. It used to be a great place for me, a place for me to learn about history...until he ruined it.

    To sum up: I'm tired of having this feeling. I'm tired of holding a grudge against some dude I've not talked to in years -- tired of carrying this grudge. Tired of not being able to create non-American characters set in our world because I keep hearing this guy in the back of my head, feeling him taking them over like a dark force overtaking their minds, forcing them to become his voice rather than their own, making them go on anti-American rants even when -- in character -- they probably wouldn't have cared. I can't even do a mystery series I've toyed with for so long because my main character (a Canadian) is being overtaken by this guy's voice -- by my memory of this guy. That's kind of why I've mainly been doing my fantasy. At least then I could pretend he isn't there. And the reason I neglected Amos, my Colonial detective for so long...

    ...Because, y'know, the American Revolution and all of that... I can already hear him going, “Typical American arrogance; they think they're so important!!”

    Just so people know:
    This is NOT me asking permission to write about a Canadian character, or a story set during the American Revolution. Both of these characters are doing just fine in their respective stories. I'm not worried about them at all. Though my poor Canadian character would like to speak for himself, though. :p

    What this thread is about is simply, how do you tackle a story that, for all intents and purposes, deal with your inner demons; deal with the thing (or things) that hurt you the most? How do you write a story that forces you to face the thing that causes you pain/fill you with bad memories, but you know you need to in order to get the inner demons out and deal with them? How do you make yourself write the thing that involves the last memories you'd ever want to relive?

    The reason I ask is because I think I clearly need to write this thing down to get it out of my system, but I'm not sure I want to/afraid that my character(s) might come off as whiny, pathetic, sissy-babies. I mean, seriously: imagine a scene where one of my characters, after praising Canada in the heat of the moment, suddenly breaks down sobbing, wanting to go back to the States because a Canadian went on an anti-American rant on her for no reason. Kind of pathetic, don't you think? Yet...somehow I feel it fits. That scene is supposed to happen. I want to explore how this feeling can lead to resentment, how it can lead the ‘victim’ to becoming the ‘bully’ and not even know it.

    So...how do you tackle it? A story that deals with the thing that causes you the most pain/grief/discomfort?

    Sorry if I'm not making sense, it's 11:23 pm Central here and I'm getting kind of tired. :p But this had been on my mind all day, and I've only now gotten the chance to write it all down before I go to bed..
     
  2. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    If it feels pathetic to write about, then write about what it's like to feel pathetic. Show the ways this character undercuts herself and frames herself as weak, punishing herself for not being able to just power through, and show why that's bullshit.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  3. Lifeline
    Offline

    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,548
    Location:
    UK - the place betwixt and between
    Truly? I have that in my story as well and I HAVE written it. And it was not easy. Yet the story demanded it and I am too much the writer not to write what the story demands. *sigh*.
    I just closed my eyes and typed away. One reluctant word at a time. And I still can only look at these scenes very, very seldom. When I am detached enough (or don't care, which is not often) that I can stay at an observer's viewpoint. Fortunately for me, my Beta looks at it from a different viewpoint, being not me ;) and for her it is definitely bearable. For me it is another matter. But her viewpoint certainly helped me accept that what I had written was, for another, maybe not "business as usual" but not as tearing as it is to me.
    There is no good way to deal with that kind of flashback. Just write if you can force yourself. Make yourself write, because of the story. :(
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  4. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    And the weird part is, the pathetic feeling tells me that my Canadian-American character, who is actually a very pleasant person, and who considers her a dear friend of his wouldn't stick up for her and try to help her get through the nasty feeling inside. That he would sooner abandon her, or tell her to get over it and check her privileges. Y'know, stuff that he would never do because that's not his character. He doesn't go out of his way to hurt people, especially if they're his friends. Heaven help you if you hurt his friends. While he wouldn't go Michael (the ruiner of your shit) DeSanta on you, he would likely give you a black eye or knock a tooth out. Let's just say there's a reason he plays football at his college.

    I guess that's part of the whole kebob. Your inner demons make you feel small, pathetic, weak; alone. Even though logically you know it's total bullshit, the inner demons constantly try to find new ways to make you feel like a shitty person on the inside for things that weren't your fault.

    At the end, it's all about power, and the battle for dominance. Control.

    Hmm...I think I may have just found the perfect plot to deal with this...

    <starts writing down notes>

    It was not easy imagining that scene, I'll tell you that. :[ Though it was heartwarming when my character told her, “I'm not your enemy. Never was, now let's go get some smoothies.”

    Hmm...y'know, while I've always imagined my Canadian-American character as my lead protagonist, would it make for a more powerful story if it alternated to her perspective (and other characters) as well? Because if it's just from his perspective, there's only going to be one side, his.

    Now I'm just gonna hope I (a) make her strong and able to stand on her own feet, and (b) not make this sound like a dramatic late-night soap opera show. :p
     
  5. Lifeline
    Offline

    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,548
    Location:
    UK - the place betwixt and between
    :) Do you need a second POV? I would certainly like to hear her speak and I think it will fit in with this specific problem but the question is also what else she can contribute down the road. And I like the line with the smoothies :D
     
  6. Lifeline
    Offline

    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,548
    Location:
    UK - the place betwixt and between
    Catrin Lewis and Link the Writer like this.
  7. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I kind of figured it'd need more than just this guy's POV because I like to see a story from multiple angles to get a more complete picture. :D She does have more going for her than this specific psychological issue,

    Oooh! Thanks for the link! :D This was very helpful, gave me some insight on something I hadn't really considered before.
     
    Lifeline likes this.
  8. Lifeline
    Offline

    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,548
    Location:
    UK - the place betwixt and between
    Then jump high and free! :cheerleader:
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  9. Catrin Lewis
    Online

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,673
    Likes Received:
    1,068
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I can definitely sympathize, for oh, have I been there when it comes to anti-American prejudice from certain Brits! Not as much as you, not as sustained, and not so intense. But I found out what it was like to be put into the box of "all Americans are . . . (fill in the bad thing)" and "Americans don't like or do . . . (fill in the good thing)."

    In a perverse way, it's helped me. I hope no one will misunderstand what I'm saying here, or think I'm being presumptuous. But I've had a taste of how bigotry feels. Only a taste, but I didn't like it. So how much more must people suffer who are discriminated against all the time! It's been healthy for me in my personal relations and in my writing. So perhaps you can use your experience of that bloke's persecution to get you into the hearts and minds of persecuted characters of whatever sort.

    But your particular demon seems to take over your non-American characters so they all channel that troll on the history forum, right?

    Well, why not let him? I don't mean all the time. I mean, think up a plot where a guy with his attitude would make the ideal villain. Let him rip. Have fun with him. Put him out there and let everyone go, "Ewwwwww!" Invent a protag who can stand up to him, and let him do everything you wish you could have. Even at the risk of writing a Gary Stu, it might be a cleansing exercise.

    Or in your current work, when your troll threatens to possess your decent Canadian, etc., characters, you could deliberately have them do or say something kind or decent, as long as it fits the plot. If his voice condemns, have theirs praise---and to hell with any imagined judgements of his on it! Declare your autonomy over your own characters. Who the hell is he to squat in your head and boss them around? It's your characters, your plot, your voice. You already know he's full of it, right? Chuck him out!

    And yeah, I know what it's like to have some jerk's voice in my head saying, "You're incapable of this" and "You always do that (bad) thing." And not just the voices of certain idiots I ran into when I was living in the UK: also the voices of people in authority over me here at home who have made it about impossible for me to get a job in my chosen line of work. I'm looking forward to the day when I stop feeling like I'm accomplishing good things just to prove them wrong, and I should take my own advice and chuck them out of my head. But in the meantime, I am, I think, getting good things done.

    Don't know if any of this is useful, but there it is.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  10. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,222
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    The irony is that when it's Americans lumping ourselves into one or the other, I laugh and kind of agree with them, but OH NO, NON-AMERICANS AREN'T ALLOWED TO DO THAT!!

    I'm not sure what you call it but...yeah...

    Same way here. I don't mean to presume I know what it's like to be persecuted because of my skin, gender, religion, or sexual orientation because I'm as American as you're gonna get. :p Y'know, the typical white Christian dude. Even got the short brown hair and brown eyes to boot.

    But it got me thinking, "Y'know, I felt bad when he kept giving me crap because I was American. How do others feel when crap is dished on them because of their skin color, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, etc.?" And it happens all the time for them. They (generalizing here) can't get away. Their pain must be maddening. Torturous. Probably explains a lot why I'm so sensitive to other people because while we all have our own inner battles that we fight, some must have a World War II-level of fighting to go through every day of their lives.

    As Helen Keller once said, "I make it look easy." Not always the case.

    Yeah, he's basically like a cancer. It's affected much of my characters in settings set in this world and has even encroached into my sci-fi. While my captain is from the Scottish Republic because that's where I wanted her, I still feel antsy on the idea of her going to visit the US, or *gasp* have a romantic relationship with an American galactic commander.

    That's what I'm doing now. One of my characters is pretty much him embodied, and he has very nasty things to say to the American side of my MC's family, even going so far as to suggest that my MC's cousin is an inbred because she and my MC are both hearing-impaired.

    He's as unpleasant as he sounds. My Canadian character actually hates him, and there's even a fistfight that breaks out between the pair after one too many insults.

    Good idea. When I hear his voice in the back of my mind, I'll do everything opposite. They're my characters, my plot, my voice. His little voice doesn't get to command them, I do. I could have my sci-fi protagonist marry the aforesaid American commander and have children and there's nothing anyone can do about that. :p :D

    The greatest challenge, likely, is to let my Canadian character act out the way he'd act out, not the way the troll wants him to act out.

    That's good to hear. Not fun having negative voices haunt your brain nigh on endlessly. :<

    It's very useful, thanks. :D
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  11. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,776
    Likes Received:
    2,402
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I don't write about my personal demons, cause nobody else should hear about my problems. Let alone care about them, seeing as they have their own. I think that is great that you can, that has to be a hard thing to do and take a lot of courage. I however think that my pain is better kept to myself, where it belongs locked away from the eyes of others. Kudos for having nerves of steel to expose yours in an artistic way, you are an inspiration for those of us who would not dare to tread that path. Way to go! :cheerleader:
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  12. Holden LaPadula
    Offline

    Holden LaPadula Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    18
    I read a study (as a psychology major) revealing that the expression of even subconscious feelings is inevitable in writing, simply because the things on your mind are the lens that your thoughts inevitably pass through. Take the most popular work of this generation: Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling admits to expressing her depression through components such as the soul-sucking dementors and the backstory of her protagonist as a whole. Even if subconsciously, the expression of demons is inevitable.

    However, avoid directly translating your demons into the plot. In my writing I allude to events and people from life in subtle ways and wrap them naturally into my work, whether through what my characters are wearing, the dates of events in my novel that parallel with my life, characters with traits of people I know, a song playing in a bar within the story.... Overall I treat the "demon," as you describe it, like an "archetype" or "prior work" that I incorporate into my work. I hope that makes sense! The satisfaction of working it in subtly yet artfully is far stronger than simply basing your plot on it.

    Hopefully this made sense to you! Writing is after all the greatest form of expression! :D :D
     

Share This Page