How could a book be so difficult to write?
To be honest most ideas are pretty hard to get out on paper, but this one was particularly difficult - and I guess it was because it had so much of me in it. I know that sounds lame, and I’m sorry if it does, but that’s the truth.
Ok, I’ve written books before which were about subjects personal to me, so that alone wasn’t new. 7 Days was based loosely on experience and revisited some emotional baggage that I thought I had neatly packed away long ago (guess I was wrong there then!). It can be tough to touch on these things again, but I think it helps to make the writing feel more real. You can totally understand where the character is and how they might be feeling – you can tap into them, relive experiences with them, even if that’s something you don’t really want to do again.
In Damage I had to deal with emotions that I hadn’t had time to pack away – this grim stuff, or more specifically, grief, was still cluttering up my mind. I guess grief never really goes away. I don’t think so anyway. I see it sitting under the skin like a persistent bruise, aching whenever you press on it. So of course writing about grief meant I was constantly pressing on that wound. Aching, hurting, remembering. Although I’d never experienced self-harm, a major theme of my book, I could relate to the build-up of pressure that a person could feel. The way that you can feel as if you would burst due the internal pain. The way you seek to relieve the pain the best way you can.
Even harder for me was writing about anxiety, something one of my characters suffers from. Anxiety has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to think that I was different from everyone else. Why else would I panic at the smallest thing, never sleep due to my constant fears and have a constant knot in my stomach? Why was my world filled with dark thoughts and worries? Why could I never be happy?
I’ve found that acceptance has been a great step forward for me. I know who I am now and all the parts that form me. I’m less ashamed of my anxious behaviours and try to be more up front about it. I try to see it not as a weakness but just as part of my character. I can’t hide away from me, I am who I am.
If depression is a black dog, anxiety is a grey wolf clawing at my insides, constantly chewing up my guts and howling at night, keeping me awake and haunting my dreams. It’s hard not to feed the wolf, but sometimes the wolf feeds me.
Damage is a small part of this. I can use my experiences to write, to share to draw from my own knowledge. Although it can be a little difficult at times, I do think it’s good to get these things out there. Only by reading, by writing, by talking and sharing can we build our empathy and understanding – and then we can move forward, appreciating that every person is a wonderful unique emotional cocktail.
Eve Ainsworth is the author of Seven Days, Crush and Damage. All her books can be found on Goodreads. All her books are also available to purchase from all major book retailers.