Beauty From Pain

I said earlier that I don’t believe you have to suffer to be a writer. Meaning, you don’t have to have a tortured childhood, a twisted life, a stunted limb, a bout with alcoholism, in order to validate your existence as a writer. However, I will submit something that sounds a bit inconsistent: you can create beauty from pain.

In fact, you almost have to. What would a story written by a child who has never sorrowed be like? Would it speak to us, to those of us who have been through some life? And don’t forget, to a child, the pain of a skinned knee is enormous, because it’s the most they’ve ever had. Would that level of perspective mean anything to you and me?

Since stories have to have conflict, maturity, growth, they will necessarily involve pain. I’m not going to say that if you haven’t experienced the same kind of pain, you shouldn’t write the story. A person who has lost a child can still write about losing a lover, and vice versa, and with some effort and research, can make it convincing. But could a person who has never lost anything write convincingly about loss?

Not that there are many people who have never lost ANYthing. And I don’t think there are quantifiable levels of pain and experience. But that’s what makes fiction so interesting: infinite variety. And, to me, that’s what makes speculative fiction my home. Can a person who has lost a child write convincingly about losing a society? About losing a home planet? A triplet of lovers from another species?


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