Why Writers Must Embrace Suffering

I was proposed an interesting question after my post titled We Are All Children’s Writers, where I encouraged writers to remember the joys of childhood to liven up their writing.

But, what if you didn’t have an actual “childhood”?

How can a person who wasn’t given a “playtime” as a kid remember the joys of this through writing?

What if a child’s voice was silenced through years of abuse or abandonment?

It’s a situation I didn’t anticipate with my article, because I took my own happy childhood and loving family for granted.

Is it possible that freedom from misfortune, hate and disdain censors us from the raw realities that happen around us everyday? I don’t think it’s a question, it’s a fact.

Being raised into loving hands and welcoming situations can shelter you from the outside world, to a point where it simply ceases to exist.

Is this a bad thing? Yes of course. You can’t ignore the voiceless, because more often than not their story is the one that needs to be shared. You can’t shut out your own misfortunes because you need to piece together the reasons it happened, in order to communicate that to yourself and others. Especially through writing.

The cry of the voiceless needs to be heard

Those who have endured heartbreak, abandonment, abuse and overbearing ridicule throughout life have the greatest story to tell of all. They need to be heard for our sake and for their own sake, to piece together the mysteries of their life.

It is our responsibility to never forget these people, rather to embrace and even celebrate them. Otherwise, they continue to be left alone, and it’s when we forget to listen to stories of misfortune, the same events happen over and over again.

Not only that, but these stories provide comfort, guidance and possible inspiration to those who read them. Those who are persecuted have the most interesting stories to tell, not to mention they can have the most impact on the world.

Tapping into tough times

It’s impossible to compare everyday stresses of an average person to the horrible situations taken on by those victims of hatred and abuse. However, as a writer you can learn something by indulging yourself into the difficult memories of your own life. Everyone copes differently with letdowns, but instead of brushing them under the rug and forgetting, revisit these heartbreaking moments to better understand the reasons they happened.

Write about the sorrows you endured to help others who went through (or are currently going through) similar circumstances. Allow people to connect with your writing and remind them that they are not alone. Tough situations come in every shape and form, from a bad grade in school to a foreclosure or loss of a job.

Everyone has a story to tell and it doesn’t always end with “happily ever after”.

Reflecting on difficult times in your own life reveals the true spirit of who you are. It unveils how you responded when knocked down and what you did in order to solve the problem.

It’s not the accomplishments that make you who you are. It’s the times when the world told you that you weren’t worth it. The times when people left you for nothing. Interesting people are the ones who crawl from the ashes, and whether you are the one telling the story or making sure another’s is told, we all have a responsibility to unveil the sorrows of our world.

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the very interesting post. You write about something very important. Have you read Natalie Goldberg? I love the way she writes about her own past.

  2. Amen! Its the voice they never had. Its the way to healing. Its also the way for others to help facilitate their healing. I believe that Jesus is the Healer, but He spoke and the world came into being. It is God’s Word that brings life. Words are vital.

  3. lindseygendke says:

    Yep. What you have described really has formed the core of what I write about. I began writing seriously at age 14 when times got tough, and it is a story I’m still trying to tell today. But today I don’t tell the story to wallow…it is, as you say, to help others. I’m thankful God is helping me to turn the suffering into what I hope will be a blessing to others.

  4. Totally agree… this style of writing could be stories for these ‘protected’ souls to read while living their sheltered lives. A life lived vicariously through. Hmmm. Not sure I’d choose that, but romance novels obviously have a market, eh? EH! Same thing only different… 😉

  5. That’s why they say: pain makes a person interesting. Or…something to that extent. And it’s true. Somehow a happy, smooth life is uninteresting, but reading about someone deal with difficulties (and beyond the difficulty of deciding what to have for dinner) is exciting, because if we care about the character, we want to see them succeed, and validate the belief that extraordinary things can be accomplished with effort. Peace of mind has to be earned through suffering.

    Spot on post!

    • You hit the nail on the head. Call it interesting or more cultured, I’ve even found that just talking to people who have gone through difficult times are more fun and interesting to hang out with. Thanks Megan :)

  6. Thank you for this post. It is important to remember those among us that have crawled out of their past to stand on their own as adults. Telling their stories gives them the respect they deserve.

  7. Thanks for talking about this issue. When I first read the title, I felt like it was backwards. For me, it was why sufferers should embrace writing. Growing up as a kid who was not sighted and not totally blind, I experienced a lot of bullying including teachers and other adults who insisted that, if I wanted to go to public school, I could read print like everyone else.

    Keeping a journal, writing poetry and later songs provided a haven for me, and as you mentioned, a way of working things out. Songwriting/performing ultimately gave me a way to make a living for almost two decades.

    Several years ago, I was speaking at a Lions club regional conference & was introduced to a young lady who I was told was blind and had just graduated from high school. When I spoke with her, she asked me questions about Braille (which I had taught myself after college) and told me she was taking a correspondence course in it. I thought she must have just recently lost her sight & said as much. No, she had been legally blind for years with a condition like mine that was virtually guaranteed to leave a person functionally blind in early adulthood at the latest. Nevertheless, her school chose to save money and push her through. After graduation, she realized she wasn’t fit for the job world or college and began to acquire the nonvisual skills she should have been learning since early childhood.

    Her story shocked me into consciousness. The things that happened to me were still going on, despite changes in the law and blind people like David Hartman, who graduated from Temple Medical School in the ’80s. I wanted to get the stories of blind people and parents of blind kids who were being pushed to the side by the school system into some publication that would reach a general audience.

    Newspapers, magazines & TV rarely cover any issues about the continuing problems of unemployment, declining Braille literacy and digital accessibility. As an example, did you know that this week Rep. Greg Harper (R-Ms) introduced H.R. 831, Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act? If passed it will close a loophole, which excludes workers with disabilities from federal minimum wage protection. Battles like this are going on all the time with no public voice outside the separate & not quite equal world of people with disabilities.

    I was writing for online magazines until Suite 101, the one where I could at least get a little cash for my work, abandoned its journalistic standards as well as its accessibility to writers like myself who use screen readers. I’m currently regrouping and seeking out nonexclusive article directories that still do work with screen readers, but my major emphasis now is getting my novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, out. It has several characters who have disabilities — a 14-year-old girl who, like me, is straddling that gap between blindness & normal sight, a totally blind girl, a boy in a wheelchair and a boy with emotional problems. I received a comment the other day from a blind woman who said she wished she’d had something like this when she was in high school. I hope she will still feel that way after she reads it. :)

    • Amazing comment! I never knew or even wondered about equal rights for the blind/sight impared. It blows my mind that any school would lack the ability to teach these students properly or any government would deny someone a decent living wage. Especially when you are willing to work and not just collect disability.
      Write your book, keep fighting your fight, and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  8. Well done, you have validated both sides of the coin. I had an amazing childhood and have spent most of my adult life making a living through what I consider “play time.” Writing comical, silly stories is easy for me, because I love to laugh.
    It is a little risky to admit, that my coping mechanism is to turn pain into a joke. Fortunately I have never been the victim of abuse, but I have fallen on hard times… Depression, anxiety, grief, making it in the real world, etc. None of us are without suffering. Interestingly enough though, as poignant as my emotions grip me, I find these the hardest to write about. Well, not the hardest to write about, but the hardest to share with anyone.

    Thanks for bringing up both subjects and making me realize I might need to delve a little deeper into my dark side.

  9. You can only write what you know. My mom would tell me this when I started writing at an early age and through everything we had to go through. It’s one of the best collection of stories I know that made me, me. You’re right, everyone has a story, I wish we would all listen and learn from them.
    Great post.

  10. Saurav Bikram Thapa says:

    “everyone has a story to tell and it doesn’t always end with a happy ending”. sublime.

  11. Great post. As a reader I am looking for connection and for a story that relates to something I’ve experienced. I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing and remind myself that other readers may be looking for connection as well. When we share that suffering and those difficult experiences through writing, we allow others to connect.

  12. Will Schwettmann says:

    Joe good work here, the truth is always hard along with the pain that go’s with it, I lost a good childhood friend just awhile ago and found out a lot that was never said, After looking over what he left in Tapes i posted most of it here on WordPress Blog/ Between me you and God. That was hard to write but hereto felt he also needed to be heard what happen to him was somehow place behind to be forgotten till his death. What you have here is so true if more would just tell it like it is they to could have a better childhood. Thank You Will.

    • Thanks for a very good post. Reading peoples’ stories made me feel I was not alone and helped me to write, and share, my own. It’s often far from easy to re-visit dark memories to write about and share, but doing so helped me to make sense of my life and, hopefully, has helped others. As the writer Pearlie McNeil says: ‘I feel that autobiographical writings have a lot to offer both writers and readers, for in reading about one woman’s [or man’s] life we can often learn a lot more about our own.’

  13. Hi Joe! Thank you so much for visiting and following my new blog “A View From My Summerhouse”. I hope you enjoy reading my posts! Your wonderful blog is a real find, an insiration to me as a new writer and blogger in so many ways, particularly this post about embracing suffering as a writer. I have struggled for so long feeling that I don’t have a voice but now, through my writing, I have at long last found that voice which I hope will reach and encourage others. I will be back for more of your great advice soon!

  14. This is a really interesting post and very nicely written. Thanks for the like and follow.

  15. Thanks for stopping by with a like and now following! I’m enjoying your work and it reminds me to get back into my writing. I can resonate with this post.

  16. great post …. with a bit a wrong title :-) Everybody should read (and hopefully agree with) this. The only way to raise understanding in our world.

  17. Great post! Suffering and literature/writing always makes me think of my senior year high school English teacher who got frustrated with a few students one day, who always complained about the books we read not being “happy.” Her response was: “I hope you suffer… and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, in a loving way.” Still cracks me up a little bit.

  18. Great Post!