Happy New Year to everyone. I am going to start this year by featuring a new author I been following for a few months. Her name is Cassandra Giovanni and she has written 2 books. In addition, she is currently working on a third book, Let the Fates Decide. She is going to share a post with us about Writing to Live and is including an excerpt from her book Walking in the Shadows.
Writing to Live By: Cassandra Giovanni
Many authors claim to be introverts by nature, and thus live a quiet life. I’ve heard more than one person say that writers don’t have lives; they write instead of living—they basically are hobbits who don’t interact with humans. I’m sure that this is true of some writers, but it’s certainly not true of me. I write to live, and thus live through my writing. I think some writers are actually able to live fuller lives because they write. It truly depends upon what the person writes. If it’s non-fiction than they are recreating a world that already existed, so maybe they are living vicariously through their writing—perhaps they are trying to understand what has happened through talking it out. Fiction can be much the same. I’ve met writers who write to try to understand the world around them, to analyze it and judge people’s actions. The issue with judging people’s actions, in my mind, is that you can’t get inside of their head. You will never truly understand what led them to that point. I’m a different sort of writer than this, for I write to accept the world as it is. I write to show the world as it is, and then show my characters gaining strength in some of the worst situations—situations I haven’t been in. I live a different life through my characters and gain strength as they do. My husband once asked me why everything I write is so dark. I think I know now. The darkest parts of life are the hardest parts to accept. We want to analyze them and understand why they have happened. This in fact can create a weakness—one that I know. I’ve tried to understand why people that have hurt me have done so, but all that creates is resentment. It doesn’t make me feel better and then one stops living. You start analyzing everything and then if you’re a writer, you become that hobbit, fighting to understand the outside world, but fearing it too much to actually live in it. That’s why I’ve used my writing as a vehicle to accept what has happened, and strength to strength I’ve grown as a writer and a person because I am no longer struggling with that fear. When I stopped writing as a teen all I could see was the darkness, feel that fear, anger and guilt for what had happened to make me stop doing what I loved. I bottled myself up because I didn’t want those emotions, yet I still felt them—even more intensely than I did when I was writing. It may have been partly because ever since I could draw, speak, write I was doing that and in not doing so I lost a piece of myself. The other reason may have been because I was writing instead of living. This may seem a paradox because writing is mostly a solitary process for most, but when you write for a living, or want to eventually do so, you have to open yourself up to others. You have to become an open book to share that writing with them. I talk about what I’m writing to just about anyone who will listen because I write to live. If I didn’t write I would be that hobbit, analyzing every movement, living in fear and anger. I only hope that through my acceptance of the darkness, and my character’s exploration of how to withstand it, stand above it and overcome it, I inspire others to do so; that I inspire others to open their eyes in the darkness and find the light—to live as I have and hopefully will continue to do so. So, I’ll defy the precedent and write to live, and not live to write.
I would also like to share an excerpt from my latest novel, Walking in the Shadows, which is a young adult romantic suspense novel. It seemed a good chapter to share with you because it deals directly with what I have talked about. In it the main character, Vera, has been given a journal by her once boyfriend, but now teacher. He believes that his job as a teacher is to help his students, including Vera and that she needs to deal with the emotions that she has bottled up from her parents tragic deaths.
“This next assignment is an easy A, guys. So, I expect you all to participate,” Tad explained, and his eyes darkened as they landed on me. It looked as if he was drowning and my body went numb as he continued. “We’ve studied the great poet Shakespeare and some of you struggled with his work. We also just finished the epic poem Beowulf. It’s time for you to find the great poet inside of you.” He pulled at his tie as he saw my eyes narrow. Stupid journal! “This is going to be an anonymous assignment, so as long as you hand me a piece of paper on Friday you will get an A. Write a poem about whatever you feel. Let it be anything…leave no stone unturned. Hate, guilt, passion, lust, love, fear, gratitude. Whatever you feel write it. It can be graphic, subtle, calm or angry. Lay it all out class. On Friday I’ll shuffle the papers and hand them out to each of you and we’ll all read one out loud. And I, of course, will participate as well. You can all have fun trying to guess who wrote what, but what will be more surprising, I believe, is that you won’t be able to.”
At the end of the class I wanted to do nothing more than to throw the journal he had given me at his face.
“This is going to be fun,” Jaz remarked when the bell rang. “I’m excited to see what Brad writes.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to tell it’s him?” I asked, shoving my notebook in my bag so hard I could hear stitches rip.
Jaz raised an eyebrow at me, but then shook her head and smiled. “Of course!” She stood in unison with me and linked her arm in mine. “Let’s see what crazy Jennings does today.”
“Umm…you go on ahead of me. I have to ask Knightley about this poetry thing. You know length and such.”
“He said it doesn’t matter, silly,” Jaz teased, but when she saw my face she unlinked her arm from mine. “Fine, but I have tons to tell you!”
When everyone had left I walked up to Tad. He was concentrating deeply on scripting when assignments were due on the white board, on purpose I was sure.
“Pissed?” he cut me off as he turned to face me. “You think I didn’t know that you would be? I was trying to warn you—I’m sorry, but I have to give assignments that will help my students.”
“You said you wouldn’t let anything or anyone hurt me,” I shot and turned on my heel, seeing the injury in his eyes.
“Vera, don’t say that.”
I stopped and spoke with my back to him. “You might not like what you hear, Knightley.”