So a lot has happened in the last month for me, some good, some meh. On top of starting a new job, moving to the land of bugs and sunburns, and preparing for the Midwest Writers Workshop next month, I’ve been struggling – and I mean STRUGGLING – to put words to paper with this rewrite.
I’ve tried not to discuss my WIP here on the blog, but for the sake of what I’m attempting to say in this post, you’re going to learn a bit about my current book’s protagonist, Kjersten (pronounced like Kiersten, know as KJ to family and close friends).
Throughout KJ’s journey, she goes through a lot of growth as a person. She learns that she can’t take responsibility for everyone or everything, accepts that people have to be allowed to make their own mistakes, as well as learns to let people see her gooey center and learns to trust/rely on them.
These lessons don’t exactly come in delicious packages of delight. It’s a difficult journey paved with mistakes and irrevocable loss.
As is life.
I realized last night that I’m avoiding the upcoming chapters of the rewrite because I’m avoiding putting KJ (and myself) through that journey of growth again.
You see I spent the vast majority of 2011 in Baghdad, Iraq, as a military photojournalist/graphic artist. Due to the nature of the MOS (military occupation specialty), I saw more of the country than many of my fellow service members. Along with that, I worked a lot closer to the flagpole than most 19-year-old female specialists should without a proper leadership buffer. Shit happened. It left scars. PTSD is a bitch.
Anyhoo, when Soldiers – specifically Guardsmen – return to the States, society expects you to just keep moving. Get a job. Find a place to live. Because these things are so god damn easy. You have no opportunity to address the fact that you just spent a year of your life in a war zone. The majority of the people around you can’t relate to what you went through and it fucks with your brain. It starts to feel like the deployment didn’t actually happen, like it was all a bad dream that has somehow rattled your psyche to the point where you have emotional/psychological scars and triggers that you can’t even begin to predict. Like I said before, PTSD is a bitch.
Over the last couple years, I’ve worked incredibly hard to overcome this feeling of a disjointed reality, but it’s a constant battle. I would never wish this kind of thing on anyone, let alone a character who I’ve spent so much time with getting to know and telling their story. So that’s why this rewrite is kicking my ass. Now that I know this, I can continue forward.
So here’s the thing [aka the purpose for this post], none of that growth would have happened without some serious introspection. I think it’s an important part of our growth as human beings to stop every once in a while and truly, critically introspect on our thoughts and actions. If we all did this, the world would probably be a more compassionate, understanding place.
Just some food for thought.