Award-winning author K.L. Going discovered that writing allows you to work through some things you may have never even imagined you needed to work through.
Below are a few additional questions and answers we had for Going as a follow-up to the blog post we made last Sunday.
TBM: Do you see writing or creatively expressing yourself as healing (if so, how)?
KL: I do, but I find it interesting that writing often heals me in ways I didn’t realize I needed healing. When I set out to write a novel, I have a specific emotional theme I want to tackle – the main plot – and this is consciously chosen. But what comes out underneath – the subplots – most often come out of my subconscious and sometimes it takes years before I can look back and see how incredibly relevant they were to my life at that time.
TBM: We focus on art and creativity not because we believe everyone needs to become an artist, but because we believe expressing yourself creatively (in whatever form that takes) can help people work through problems. Writing, for example, is a gentle way to work through a problem, but as your novels show it’s also a generous way because you’re providing something to the world.
Did you set out to explore the “emotional landscape” of being different and of self-consciousness? And if so, did you go into it with an awareness that it was something you’d struggled with?
KL: Yes, I definitely set out to explore this theme consciously, but I purposely exaggerated it for effect. At least, I thought I did!
As I wrote, the voice and tones of the novel felt so hugely disproportionate, and I thought I’d end up toning it way down, but when it was done, it fit. Perfectly.
The awareness of how the novel connects to me personally was there as a kernel of thought, but it has grown and changed over time.
TBM: How did it feel writing about a character who, as you say, mirrored yourself with regards to self-consciousness – not just when you had your epiphany, but even before that, did you notice any changes going on emotionally or mentally about how you felt toward or perceived yourself?
KL: Honestly, I don’t remember feeling changed at the time of writing. I’ve been more changed by the act of publishing. Writing is private, but sharing your work is public. It is tremendously scary if you’re the type of person who is shy or worries a lot, or feels personally affected by other people’s opinions. I’ve found publishing to be an emotional roller-coaster, and it takes a lot of strength and conscious effort to maintain your solid inner core – to enjoy the highs and ride-out the lows, and not let any of them define you or your work.
The act of sharing my creations has strengthened me as a person and made me aware of what I most value in my life. What will endure regardless of whether I’m in the presence of praise or criticism? Who am I? Who loves me no matter what? What will I do with my life on this planet that can make a positive difference?
This is exactly Troy’s journey in Fat Kid Rules the World. He reaches the point where the worst, most humiliating thing happens, and yet he still has to go on. He has to find out exactly what I’ve had to find out . . . Who he is. Who loves him. What will he do with his one amazing life that will make a difference?
So, yes, there have been a lot of changes in my self-perception since I wrote this book. Writing helps you to define the things you already know but haven’t consciously unearthed. First the knowledge is just a secret, silent hope, and then you gradually give it voice. And then you spend years uncovering the layers of your truth.
How about you? Do you have a secret, silent hope you might gradually give voice to?
As mentioned in our previous post, Going’s novel has been made into a movie starring Billy Campbell and Jacob Wysocki. Check out the last days of their Kickstarter project as they try to raise money to bring the movie to more people.