Hello readers! This Tuesday I want to bring to you a special guest post by Shannon Lee Alexander, author of Life After Juliet which will be released on July 5th. Today she’s going to speak about her personal connection with writing and how this has led her to become an author! Without further ado, here’s Shannon!
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I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’d kept a journal from the first moment my aunt gave me a diary with a little padlock to lock away all the icky feelings I didn’t know how to process.
Confrontation is not my thing. Growing up, I wasn’t comfortable expressing anger or disappointment with others or myself. Instead, I’d hide on the floor between my bed and the window and scribble away in my journal. Inside the journal, I could say anything (even the bad words I knew my parents would punish me for saying!) and I’d be safe. And what I discovered, in writing through my rage, was that I was truly angry about certain things, but that underneath that anger there were so many more layers of emotions.
Writing helped me tear down walls I didn’t even realize I was building around myself. It helped me process a world I couldn’t always understand. It helped me feel brave and powerful when I was scared and powerless. It made me who I am today.
Eventually, in high school, I started scribbling down bits of stories or character sketches of the people and places I liked to imagine. I’d even begin writing longer stories, following my characters around on adventures through my imagination. I say I started, and I mean it literally, because I never finished writing any of those stories. They were all abandoned whenever I’d hit a plot hole I couldn’t fill.
I’d usually make it about halfway to three-quarters through a way through a story before bailing on it entirely. I’d tell myself that I wasn’t quitting, but that I just was more interested in some new and shiny idea and that I’d come back to finish the other one someday.
Someday is a lie.
Because I wasn’t coming back to those stories. I was running away from them, much like I ran from the gross feelings I didn’t want to deal with when I was younger.
When I was twenty-three, my childhood friend Em was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery and chemo and was cancer free for five years. And then it came back, as ovarian cancer often does. But my Em wasn’t going to let it get her down. She was determined to hold on, to fight her cancer until a cure could be found. She was going to live her life to the end. She was going to finish strong.
After watching Em, I decided I needed to dig deep and find my own courage. I needed to finish a story, and it didn’t even have to be a good story, but I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. I needed to be just a small fraction as brave as my Em.
Em’s indominable spirit is what changed me from a person who dabbled in bits of stories into a novelist. Her enduring hope is what pushed me to use all the icky emotions swirling inside me and work through them through the fictional lives of my characters. In a way, my novels are very similar to my journals. They are a safe space to explore. And I hope that they offer that same space to readers, too.
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Thank you so much Shannon! It was a pleasure to have you and to learn more about what has inspired you to write!
For more about Life After Juliet, click here!