There are many reasons one might write. To pass the time. To share a great story. Because the character’s won’t shut up in your mind.
I recently discovered another reason to write. Therapy.
As some of you know, I work in child welfare as a juvenile law attorney. Sometimes I represent the children who are placed in the system, and sometimes the parents.
It is work that is alternatively frustrating and rewarding. There are days when I go home feeling really good about the work I do and days when I want to beat my head against a wall.
A couple months ago, I had one of those head against wall days. I didn’t do that, though. Instead, I went to Zumba class (as I do almost every evening) and when I got home, I started writing a new story.
It’s a novel about the child welfare system, from the perspective of the various professionals (social worker, judge, parent’s attorney) and someone in the system.
People say you should write what you know, and this is something I know a lot about and see every day. It also gave me a chance to bring back one of my favorite characters from earlier books, who has now achieved her dream of being a juvenile court judge.
Ironically, though, she’s not the character that is driving the story so far. Nor is it the bleeding heart attorney or the jaded social worker.
Nope. It’s the foul-mouthed heroin addict fighting for her child, and fighting her past, that is threatening to run away with the book.
I’m letting her run with it, because telling her story has proven to be very therapeutic for me. As I try to get in Devin’s head, capture her voice, I find myself gaining a greater understanding of parents in the system.
I know that some of my life experiences, including my work, have helped me to be a better writer. Now, as my writing life and my real-life intersect, it’s my writing that might help me become better in my day job.
Or at least deal with the stress better.
Writing as therapy.
It may turn out to be a pretty good book, too.
For more information on The Line, please see the Works in Progress page.