May 24, 2014

Writing about painful incidents from life

Dear M,

There was an incident that happened about twelve years ago. I was not among the ones that were directly hit by it, but I was in an inner circle. It was not easy to get over it, especially the questions it raised. The Why? Why? of it.

I never found out the answers. Probably that's why I never found a closure with it. I could probably have dug deeper into it, but it would have reopened the wounds of the people who were trying to get past it.

I met them again last month. It was not something you grow out of or you can move away from. It was something that would hang over their heads for ever. They had worked their lives around it. Things are looking good for them now, there have been happier incidents in the past few years and it did fill our hearts to see them getting along.

The questions were not answered, though. I could not bring myself to ask those and risk seeing their pain.

Why did I bring this up now? Because in one of my recent stories, I wrote about it. The similarity is too thin to notice - except for the people who know and haven't forgotten. I don't know how it would be received if they read it. Would they think I have commercialised a personal tragedy?

For writers, sometimes the only way to let out pent-up emotions is to write about it. Others may easily claim that we're trying to make money out of it. But in truth, it is our own way of finding answers, of finding some peace. Twelve years hence, I still haven't found any peace with that incident, except a slight satisfaction when I met the people concerned. It is our own way of creating the same situation and explaining it the way we think it happened. It is our own way of trying to believe that it wasn't worse than we had imagined, that the real explanation isn't more terrible than we are trying to convince ourselves. Yes, the answers of the Why could indeed be anything.

Though it does not always help, it is our attempt to find some consolation. For a reader, it might seem like the author has quickly weaved it into the story for want of a better scene. Or that the writer is just another person who uses stories for their own purpose, like the media highlighting tragedies to lure viewers. It isn't.


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  1. I once wrote about a tragedy in my family. Suicide. I felt guilty afterwards. Very very guilty. I wove a tale from something that was tragic. This post just reminded me of that. It was my way to deal with the loss.

    1. Thank you. Yes, it is difficult to decide whether to write what your heart tells you to or remove it because it might cause someone pain.

  2. I can understand your take here. I have been through the same. And I stand with you my friend that we don't necessarily weave stories and plots out of motive to spin fiction out of real life tragedies. We do it cuz we often know no other way to go about it than penning it.

    Nice write up.

  3. This post raises many questions. Even I am thinking about it now. Thanks for writing

    Village Girl

    1. Glad to know it made you think. Thank you for the comment.