When I was younger, I used to laugh at my Catholic friends who spent hours making up sins to confess to their priest. Yes, they knew lying about a sin was also a sin, but they said it was better than the alternative of telling the boring truth. I scoffed at them then, but I now understand their problem.
It seems I’m in need of a few past sins. And they need to be the juicy kind.
You see, recently in a writing workshop, I was asked to delve through the deep, dark times of my childhood and adolescence and dredge up all the pain and anguish of my teenage years to help me become a better writer. I must find my inner tortured soul so that I can use my angst to create works of sheer beauty.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find that tortured spot. I’m having an issue with not having issues.
Last week, we began a seminar at work to help us break through the emotional barriers that stem from, you guessed it, our childhood and teen years. It seems the same emotional wreckage that destroys your productivity at work is the stuff that feeds the inner writer.
It sounds good, doesn’t it? Deal with the inner hurt and angry teenager and become a better adult. My problem is I don’t seem to have much pain or anger to deal with. I know I’m supposed to have deep emotional damage from my youth, but I just can’t find it. Believe me, it’s a horrid feeling to have lost your inner angst.
Even worse, what if I somehow overcame all that turmoil? What if I missed my opportunity to scar myself for life? What if I’m just normal?
I’m a fairly calm person who can’t stay on a diet to save my soul, loves to garden but hates to mow, and cries at Disney movies. I love my family and my job and have good friends. I’m happy, and I had a happy childhood and even a fairly happy adolescence (my parents confirmed this). I’ve considered this a good thing all my life, but in a strange turn of events, I now find myself in need of emotional instability and hidden anger.
In fact, I’ve been told I can’t do my job properly without them.
Yep, you read that right. I can’t do my job, either as a writer or as a teacher, until I ‘fess up to and deal with scars that don’t exist.
You can only imagine how terrible I feel knowing that I can’t excel at the very thing I seem to be good at. Apparently, I’ve spent all these years practicing my art for nothing.
I’ve been assured that the inner anguish is there; I simply need to work harder to find it. They tell me I need to reach deep inside to find those places I’ve hidden from myself.
I’ve decided I need to reach deep inside and lie.
I mean, I’m a writer, and I make this stuff up all the time. So I will. I’ll construct inner pain the likes of which they’ve never seen, and I just bet they won’t even know it isn’t real.
In fact, I might just be a good enough writer that I don’t need emotional damage to know what it’s like to feel hurt and anger and love. Maybe, it’s enough that I’ve felt those emotions and seen others deal with them. Maybe, just maybe, I can be happy and healthy and still do my job.
But only if I lie about the juicy sins I never committed. Like my dad always said, “Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story.”