Pain: The Heartbeat of a Story

For any writer even slightly familiar with pain, I’m sure it’s easy to sympathize when I say that pain is ultimately sapping my creativity. I’m 10 months into what my first doctor labeled a cluster headache, and what my second doctor is calling a transformed migraine. Either way you call it, it still hurts and it still hinders my ability to think. So, hopefully this post makes some sense to you – I’ve certainly struggled to write during these months!

Pain is a fascinating part of life. Yes, I was being partially sarcastic, but I’m also being serious. I mean, if you think about it, what story is interesting without pain? The pain of physical hurt or psychological hurt by a conflict in the story is why stories are interesting.

Don’t believe me? Name one story that you enjoy that doesn’t have any pain (conflict counts as pain – pain of a disagreement, pain of a strained friendship, etc.) I’d actually be curious if it’s possible to have a good story without pain. Pain is the heartbeat of a story – without it, a story would die. Pain isn’t necessarily the heart of a story, although it can be, nor is it the blood pulsating throughout the story. Yet it is what drives the story on, through ups and downs.

Does that make my life a good story? I don’t think so, but then again, I’m living it and it’s not very glorious. But maybe if I described it like I do my stories, it would seem more glorious. Catching the moments of triumph – and despair – as I journey through this never-ceasing headache, perhaps? Letting readers glimpse into my moments of weakness as I weep in my husband’s arms, wondering when the pain will end, followed by moments of strength and joy as I work, smiling, loving life despite my unrelenting pain? Perhaps then I live a story worth telling.

I used to hate pain. And I still hate pain; however, not that I have become a masochist, but I have come to appreciate where pain can take us, and the role it plays in a story. It brings us to our knees to question everything. It forces us to consider options maybe we never did before. It reveals our deepest character strengths and flaws. It breaks weak relationships, and builds and strengthens good relationships into stronger chords that hum music under pressure. Pain opens our eyes, ears, mind, and heart to things we’d never consider before, in ways we never knew about prior.

I certainly don’t wish pain on anyone, ever. However, it is in our pain and suffering that communication with ourselves and with others can happen the clearest. Notice I said “can” – it depends entirely on your response to such pain. Do you become bitter under agony, wondering why this cruel world has decided to dump its load on you? Or do you remember the pain of others, sympathizing with them more deeply? Or, additionally, look upon others and realize, “My situation isn’t that bad?”

When we write stories, we know these options are available to our characters. And sometimes we write them to choose the easier road to travel: we have them snap back or take vengeance upon others, whether or not the character’s pain is their fault. However, our best stories are characters that triumph over pain and suffering. They continue journeying, despite the burden, or the agony, or the fear, or the sorrow.

So continue on, fellow writers, no matter your pains or suffering. There is joy in the morning.

About Tamara R. Schaad

Published author of one book in a series, and hoping to be author of many more. I love to write! View all posts by Tamara R. Schaad

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