Recently, one of my dear friends underwent his umpteenth back surgery. His latest came less than three months after they sliced him in half, front and back, neck to hips because his pins and screws were already coming out. A week or so ago they pronounced his latest surgery a success. Time will tell. I always think of him daily when I get that stabbing pain in my lower back. Whenever it gets especially bad, I think of how much my friend has endured and suddenly my discomfort isn’t so bad.
Another friend lost his home in the Colorado Springs Black Forest fire. They have yet to see the carnage and have no knowledge of whether their beloved dog survived. As an animal lover, I cannot imagine what they are going through right now. When I think of the computer problems, broken glasses, phone problems and my car dying I experienced recently, my problems seem petty. My heart truly goes out to all those who have lost homes in this fire, and recent tornadoes.
Pain is part of writing, too. Every writer experiences trials and tribulations, and no matter how bad things are, they could always get worse. Need another example? In 1991, flames engulfed the Oakland hills, killed over twenty people including two first-responders, and destroyed over three thousand residences. Among the homeless was an author who had spent two years writing her manuscript. On the day of the fire, she woke up and ran for her life. Having no time to gather personal belongings, her manuscript burned with her house, and not having backed it up meant it was gone forever. She never re-wrote that particular manuscript, but she turned a negative into a positive by transferring her fear onto her characters. Only first-hand experience can capture such emotion.
Have you ever received a rejection letter? It’s impossible to forget, isn’t it? But the pain of rejection isn’t so bad if it helps you grow as an author. Sure, sometimes the person who wrote that letter was having a bad day and may have misjudged your work, but most of the time your letter arrived because your work needed improvement. Learning from rejection not only reduces the sting, it makes you a better writer.
Whether in life or in fiction, misery is whatever we create. Whenever you experience physical or emotional pain, realize there will always be people far worse off than you.