In 2013, I received the most devastating news anyone could ever hear. I was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, I had AML, a type of leukaemia, a blood cancer.
I was 37 years old.
The next eight months of my life are still a blur in my memories. Chemotherapy and everything that goes along with the treatment of cancer is incredibly stressful on one’s body and spirit. Many of the drugs cause damage to cells other than cancer cells, and this takes its toll. During this treatment, and for a long time afterwards, I was unable to work.
I published my first book in early 2012, a novel I began writing while still in high school. After recovering from cancer, I was still unable to work outside the home, and so I returned to my love of writing to keep my mind occupied.
Just like reading, writing can be very cathartic. When you read a book, you step into the world of the author, meeting new characters and falling in love, rejoicing, and grieving with them as they journey through their lives. Writing is also a good way to escape your world while you create another one. Your characters become your children, in a sense, as you give birth to them and nurture them.
But writing for healing doesn’t have to involve a novel. Even keeping simple journal entries each day can help you express feelings you can’t quite get a grip on. Or short stories where you explore dreams and desires that you can never experience in real life can provide you with an outlet for emotions. You can write as much or as little as you want, without putting any specific goals on yourself.
So, how do you begin to write for healing?
Maybe you think you’re not creative or have no idea for starting something like this. My advice to you would be to start with your dreams. Keep a pad of paper and a pen (or a notes app on your phone if you’re more technologically savvy) next to your bed. As soon as you wake up in the morning, jot down what you can remember from your dreams. Many people might say they don’t remember their dreams, but if you do this when you first wake up, you might be surprised what you can recall.
The idea for my Undead Unit series actually stemmed from a dream. It was like a spark lit in a dark cavern, and I could see my characters in vivid colour. I had a plan formed and a sense of where the characters (in general) might go.
Once you have several dreams in your notes, go over them when you have time and see if there’s anything you can make a story about. Don’t worry about punctuation and grammar (unless you’re really picky like I am), just start to get the bare bones down. Any refining, should you choose to do so, can come later. Just sit down and let the words flow and see where your imagination takes you.
If you really can’t remember your dreams, think about something you would really like to do but can’t (skydiving, horseback riding, whatever it may be). Or imagine going to a foreign country or into outer space. Maybe you like medieval history or camping in exotic places. Find something that interests you and do some research.
My Pharaoh Queens series began because I have an intense interest in ancient Egyptian history. More specifically, I was intrigued by the first female Pharaoh, King Hatshepsut, who lived in 1400BC. Her story, as history knows it, is so fascinating because she was a strong female figure in a male-dominated culture.
The series originally started out with a single book called The Pharaoh’s Destiny, but in my time researching and writing this character, I discovered other ancient Egyptian women who were just as interesting, and so the book expanded to a series of three and then four other stores.
Liberty is an Electric Eclectic novelette that explores another possible ending to the story in The Pharaoh’s Destiny. Check it out if you would like a quick read about an ancient time.
Today, I have been in remission from leukaemia for more than 6 years, so medical science considers me “cured”. I have returned to work full time and, though I’m not as strong or healthy as I was before cancer, I’m doing fine.
However, without my writing, I wonder if I would have made it this far.
Perhaps, but perhaps not. All I can say is I’m thrilled my journey included creating these wonderful worlds and characters!
Writing healed my spirit. I hope it can heal yours, too.
You can find all our Electric Eclectic books together at @open24
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