Painful Pages

33 Calls for Submissions in November 2019 - Paying markets

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
Writing can be confessional and therapeutic. Misery Memoirs sell well, though the genre has spawned several hoaxes.

Misery lit - Wikipedia

We had a look at them in an old thread, but The Colony has grown since then.

We also discussed Anger As Motivation For Writing, but, what about using painful incidents from your own life? Our imaginations can only take us so far, right?

There’s a well-known quote about writing:

Writing Is Easy; You Just Open a Vein and Bleed

It’s been attributed to various writers and its truth is undeniable. However much we distance ourselves from our story, some of us splatters onto the page.

The writer in me offered strange consolation during dark times when I thought “This’ll make a great story one day.” Thus, I’ve recalled painful emotions felt over the years, when bereaved, divorced, betrayed by a friend, abandoned by a lover, attacked by a stranger with a knife, kicked to the ground by skinheads, being homeless, and working as a counsellor and attending counselling; also when I tried to commit suicide.

(I’m glad I didn’t succeed, as I’ve gone on to suffer lots more since...all grist to the literary mill!) :rolleyes:

Importantly, for me, anyway, my characters react differently to how I did. Perhaps I’m creating an alternative reality.

My current WIP focuses on a gang of assassins who are targetting big game trophy hunters. Their deaths are gory. I’ve known animal rights activists in Cornwall, mild-mannered folk working jobs that improved society, but who became aggressive when confronting fox hunters and badger culling.

Their violence has triggered memories of my own history of protest, some of which was painful. It’s hard to reason with four skinheads who are trying to kick you to death! Writing in as dispassionate a way as possible is proving tricky. My protagonist detective is Green-thinking, more likely to approve of the ideals of the assassins while deploring their savagery. As an upholder of the law, he’s tasked with capturing them, so I’m walking a tightrope between what is morally OK (to some) and what’s illegal.

Have you mined your pain to make stories realistic?

It’s easier to write about unhappiness than joy, isn’t it?


Laurie Halse Anderson | Mad Woman in the Forest
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33 Calls for Submissions in November 2019 - Paying markets

Craft Chat CRAFT CHAT: Scene Transitions