If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance. George Bernard Shaw
I find this a funny quote by Shaw but one that every writer really should be well acquainted with. I’m not absolutely certain why people originally begin writing. There are those who began writing to escape the trials of childhood, those who longed to share with others how they survived some horrific experience, and there are those who wrote because they had a passion to help others so they put their knowledge all in one place: a book.
Andrew Blackman, author of On the Holloway Road, said during an interview that after he watched the World Trade Center towers burn he went home, ‘caked in the dust of other people’s bodies’ and decided he would not die doing something that he didn’t want to be doing. So he began writing. Can you imagine the feeling of death not just all around you but on your clothes, up your nose, in your ears? Now can you imagine going to your own death having never done something that gave you joy? This is what Blackman experienced; it changed his world.
Elizabeth Buchan, author of Consider the Lilly, stated how she began writing while in boarding school, cold, hungry, and angry at the world. Writing helped her get ‘away’ from the life she disliked at the time. She stopped writing but returned years later, writing one page a day at 5:30am before getting up and tending to her family and work. Today people claim to not have time to write but when the passion is alive and the will to get the writing down is there…you will make time.
There are skeletons in everybody’s closet; secrets, hardships, temptations, fears, and a world of elements to write about. Rarely are we ever able to get rid of them completely so why not put those skeletons to good use. Teach them to dance. Throw something of yourself into your writing. Your characters are going to have a world of their own with a closet full of skeletons so throwing one of your own into the mix isn’t going to bring your world crumbling around you. Let your readers wonder…what if any variables of your characters are small parts of yourself mixed in. Teach your skeletons to dance. If you have to have ‘em, put them to use!