All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Writing and Exploring

There has been a lot going on this past weekend, and so much to talk about. With politics being what it is, Caitlin Clark setting the NCAA record for points scored, the whole Middle East thing - the list seems endless. So what am I going to chat about, and how will it relate to writing? Well, I decided to be very controversial this time and write about something very close to my heart: the 1976 AMC Pacer. So, as I often said every time I started my first car, "Let's see if this goes anywhere."

Yes, I admit it. My first car was a ten-year-old silver 1976 AMC Pacer which I bought for $300 and, frankly, felt like I got a deal. Yes, this car was one of the ugliest vehicles made in the 1970s, only rivaled by the distressingly hideous AMC Gremlin. However, this Pacer - also known as The Fishbowl and The Pregnant Rabbit due to its wide build and low center of gravity - was my car, and I took pride in every bit of it. Its doors the size of air locks, the deep bucket seats, the leaking gas tank, that noise the transmission made, these were all part of the sweet love language between me and my first car.

On one foggy December night, I totaled it. Admittedly, totaling a $300 car is not difficult, but I really did a number on it. Long story short, I flipped it. Not rolled it (which would've been a feat unto itself), but flipped it, landing on its roof. I wasn't going too fast, but a combination of misjudging where the road turned, the steep embankment at the road's edge, and my utter lack of driving skills left the car upside-down, roof crushed down to the top of the driver's seat, every piece of glass shattered, and my cut-up self inside the wreck.

No spoiler here - I survived. I actually walked away from the accident, badly cut and a few fractures, but alive. It became a local legend among my friends, and I joked about it just like anyone should. However, I was not okay. I would have flashbacks. Certain sounds and feelings made my heart pound and my breath race. Sure, it was a funny story to tell to my friends as long as I skipped over the parts that quietly terrified me. However, there was an underlying trauma that would not go away. It showed up in all the worst places, and I couldn't connect myself to it.

Eventually, I started writing about that accident to try and process what had happened. My first short story about it, "My Uneventful Death," was a recollection of what happened, how it happened, and the things I saw and felt. It was very workmanlike; my first step into actually exploring that night through the safety of writing, and it uncovered some truths I had not noticed before. It brought some fears to light, which honestly was kind of scary. However, a part of me knew it was a healthy kind of fear, and that if I wrote about it and put these thoughts on paper, they couldn't make trouble for me.

Through the safety of the page, I went deeper into the experience and uncovered some of the deeper trauma I had been holding inside. That's the thing about trauma - it lives outside the light, thriving in darkness. And when those experiences are dragged out and forced to stare into the sun, they wither like vampires at high noon. They lose their power. The more I wrote, the more I exposed them to the outside world, and their hold on me became weaker with every word. And yes, the panic, the phobias, the neuroses, they all lost their power as well.

This is the power of writing - to bring the inside world out and show it for what it really is. Writing defuses the nastiest things and puts them in a safe context. And now, with the use of the written word, I am now able to admit publicly that I once owned a 1976 Pacer. That's a tough thing to admit.           

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