By AFN Clarke
There is a strong case for saying that writing is a form of therapy. I’m not a psychologist or counselor but as an author I believe that writing has been a major vehicle for becoming a more whole and emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy individual. In fact, writing my first book saved my life. Having served in Britain’s Parachute Regiment for many years with two tours of service in Northern Ireland I left totally broken. I had nearly died, lost most of my insides, suffered countless surgeries and was miraculously expected to return to ”normal life”. A story sadly very familiar to those returning from Afghanistan today.
For my own sanity I desperately had to make sense of what had happened to me, and the only way I knew how was to write about it. So I shut myself away for weeks and wrote till I could write no more. That deeply personal outpouring became the basis for my first book Contact. It was an instant bestseller and is still selling strong today. I had found my voice and have never looked back. But more importantly, I had taken a step towards finding myself, and that was more vital than any outward success. That same feeling pervades my writing process today.
For me, the books I describe as “great” are those that I can connect to from some place deep within myself. They may not be of my experience but they feel real, they transport me from the known to beyond where I have been before and expand my horizons as an individual in an authentic way. That invisible connection to my emotions is what differentiates an “ok” book and a great book.
So how do authors achieve that? We often write flawed characters whose weaknesses may be our own. While we may want to stay in denial our characters cannot. So we are forced to confront our own demons so our characters can deal with theirs. Our stories often take us where we never intended to go and in doing so, kicking and screaming, we are forced to grow. I experienced that with Contact, with all 5 fiction books thereafter right through to my latest thriller The Orange Moon Affair.
In fact, the whole process of writing is a growth experience in itself: getting over the panic of writers block; admitting your first chapter sucks and starting all over again; subserving your own ego to that of your characters so their life becomes more important than your own; admitting failure and still moving on; spending hours of research to write 2 lines; searching for that elusive perfection that seems just out of your grasp – and as if that isn’t enough – writing the last word and expecting elation but instead you’re surprised by deep depression for the adventure is over and the real world is not nearly so interesting a place anymore. What could be more growth inducing than that?
If you can master that AND the sweet smell of success when you’re adored, wanted, desired, in the limelight, bigger than life and suddenly an authority on everything – then you have truly traveled an incredible journey.
Who could not say that writing is the best therapy after that?
AFN CLARKE is the son of a British MI6 operative, pilot, sailor, screenwriter, father of four who’s lived all over the world, served in the British Army and recovered from the physical/emotional traumas of war. His bestselling memoir Contact was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film. He’s insatiably curious, loves heated discussions and has a rascally sense of humor. He now writes fiction of various genres – thrillers (The Orange Moon Affair and An Unquiet American); human drama (Dry Tortugas), humor/satire (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon), horror (Collisions) with more coming soon. For more information visit http://www.afnclarke.com, connect on Facebook or Twitter (@AFN Clarke)
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13