Using Pain to Inspire Writing

The Paradox of Pain and How I Use That to Inspire My Writing

My novels are about pain—pain as an obstacle to love. But here is the paradox: While it is true that pain is an obstacle to love, love is the only true remedy for pain.

My stories include many kinds of pain: physical as well as emotional; grief from loss of loved ones as well as self-hatred for causing grief by killing the loved ones of others; depression from PTSD as well as despair from alcoholism; and more. All of these pains are obstacles to love—obstacles to finding love, to falling in love, to staying in love and to giving love. But in each case, the only true remedy to the obstacle is love, which is paradoxical.

When people say “pain,” I think the first thing that comes to mind is physical pain. For example, if a woman is going through pain-filled chemotherapy as a possible cure for her breast cancer, it is hard for her to focus on loving her husband and her children. Self-pity and the feeling that she is a victim, can keep her from giving love to her family. I think that the only remedy is for her let them in—let her family members love her and thereby help her through her suffering.

The emotional pain that is grief can destroy the possibility of loving. Loss of a wife, a husband or a child can bring anger, withdrawal and despair … and most often will take away love. I think the only remedy is finding love again, or giving love to children who are lonely and unloved, or reaching out with love to others who are likewise grieving.

PTSD—which is both physical and emotional pain—can cause a veteran to keep reliving the horrors that he or she went through in war. There is no cure, but I think love is a remedy—something that can help the person to go on living. Searching out other veterans who are suffering, letting other veterans help, giving love to other people who are hurting—I think that these are remedies—not a cure, but at least an alleviation of this kind of pain.

The pain of alcoholism often leads to despair: “No one understands. … I can’t stop. … Everyone has abandoned me. …”  I think that for the chronic alcoholic one remedy is to find love and let love in. There is no cure for a “drinking problem,” but loving someone else deeply and letting another person’s love come in—I think that is one way to be able to go on living and not “commit suicide by vodka,” which is too often the way out that is chosen by the alcoholic.

My novels explore these themes. In each story, one of the main character is in deep pain. But he or she finds love, and this love saves the character. So the paradox of pain, as an obstacle to love, turns out to not be a paradox after all:  Pain — Love = Live Happily Ever After.

Meaning: Pain can be lessened by giving and accepting Love. And then it is possible for you to live happily ever after. … At least that is what I’m trying to show in my stories.

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