IWSG: Survivor’s Guilt

This is not going to be a happy post. I’m not sure if this is really the kind of thing the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is meant to address. But I feel I need to do this in order for my healing process to begin.

In the stories I write, characters die.  Sometimes people are massacred in great numbers.  Other times, characters get killed off individually for dramatic effect. It’s all done in service to the plot.

I’ve heard writers joke about how often they “murder” characters in their stories.  I’ve joked about it myself.  I don’t think I’ll ever find those kinds of jokes funny again.  Not after the experience I had late last week.

It would be inappropriate to discuss the details of what happened in a blog post, so I’ll only say this much: a gun was involved. At one point, I thought I was going to die.  One person did die. I knew the victim, and I knew the shooter, though I can’t say I knew either of them particularly well.

Friends tell me I’m handling all this remarkably well. But of course I’m not.  Not at all.  I’m never going to forget the things I saw and heard.  I’ll never forget the fear I felt.  My healing process is going to be long and arduous.  I know part of that process will involve returning to my writing routine, because writing is so central to who I am.

Except given the subject matter I tend to write about, how the hell am I supposed to go back to doing that?  Right now, I can’t bring myself to look at my manuscript. I can’t even think about it without reliving what I’ve just been through.  Nor can I work on something new and different—something fun and lighthearted—without constantly reminding myself that there’s this thing I’m trying really hard to avoid thinking about.

But I can write this blog post.  Maybe that’s enough for now.  At the very least, I hope it’s a place for my own healing process to start.

23 Responses to IWSG: Survivor’s Guilt

  1. DRShoultz says:

    Don’t know what to say, so I won’t. Just be careful and heal at your own speed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ry Yelcho says:

    I’m sorry you have to go through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never gone through anything like what you experienced. But, having gone through other tragedies, writing has helped me. Don’t write with a purpose. Just write. See what comes out. If it’s dark, it’s dark. If it’s light, it’s light. In my experience, what needs to be said comes out. Journals and poetry have helped me, in other words, short bursts of writing with no direction. I’m really sorry to hear you’re having a rough time. I recognize that we don’t really “know” each other, but if I can help, let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Holy crap, James. This sounds like a lot to handle. I often write to heal myself, more often stuff on the farthest end of the spectrum from what happened than close to it. But I’ve never had to deal with something like this. I hope there is some sort of counselor available to you. I’m here if you need to talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erika Beebe says:

    My heart goes out to you James and you will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Scott Levine says:

    Wow… all my best, James. I’m really sorry to hear this. However you’re doing it, you’re getting by, and that’s something. It’s not much, since I’m just some guy out on the Internet, but if there’s anything you need…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve Morris says:

    Wow, so sorry to hear that, James. That must be incredibly traumatic. Be kind to yourself, talk to friends. It will take time to get over a shock like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sorry to hear this James. I can only second Steve. Take it easy and give yourself time. I think it helps to remember that this isn’t the new normal, that you will feel better in time. If there’s anything an internet friend can do to help, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What horror! Its not easy to be confronted with the reality of our fictional worlds. Violence in writing can be cathartic, but nobody ever really knows how to handle the real thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Juneta says:

    I am sorry you had to go through that. I worked 911 for 23 years. I have been on the phone when someone was shot or shot somebody or beat the H*!! out of someone. I don’t have any real advice for dealing with traumatic stuff except to allow yourself to grieve, get angry and accept that fear is a healthy reaction. Time and stages. Talking it out with someone you trust and will just listen and not try to fix you. Try to find the beauty in the day to day it is just as important as the tragedy.

    Maybe writing the emotions through character might help get as dark as you like or write them in a personal journal.

    Take care of yourself. Deep breaths. Stillness.
    Happy belated IWSG.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. debscarey says:

    I went looking for you on twitter to see if you might fancy this month’s #FF photo prompt, only to find that you’d been quiet. And then this. I am so terribly sorry to hear that you’ve had an awful & very shocking experience.

    As other have done here, I offer a virtual ear and send thoughts of kindness and peace. I hope that you do find a way to return to writing for a talent like yours would be sorely missed. But till then, may the world be kinder to you than it was that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. @breakerofthings says:

    I’ve liked this only in the sense that I want you to know that I’ve read it and hear what you are saying. I’m thinking of you and I hope that you are feeling better than when you wrote it. I hope that your muse is looking after you. If I may, one suggestion for helping you process this is to write the story that makes sense of this, that helps change the world as a result, and hopefully is a step towards these things not happening again. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. J.S. Pailly says:

    I want to thank everyone who read and commented on this post. It’s good to know there are so many people, both in my real life and here on the Internet, who care about me and support me. This was one bad moment in my life. There have been and continue to be many more good moments… more than enough to outweigh the bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. poeteye says:

    I’m sorry to hear you had such a scarring experience but happy to hear that you are in emotional recovery. Let me add my voice to the supporters here, who you might remember should your thoughts drift to dark places. We may not know you particularly well, but enough through your writings to care about you and be happy you are back unharmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thank you. It’s really been surprising and inspiring to me the amount of support I’ve received online from people whom I’ve never met face to face. It’s interesting how technology brings people together. Maybe there’s a story or a poem in that.

      Like

  15. Wow, I hadn’t seen this. If you feel like talking about it you are welcome to PM me about it, just private message through Twitter if you need to vent to someone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thank you, I appreciate the offer. Time has passed, and I’m doing much better now than I was when I wrote this post. What happened was probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened in my life, but the experience has made me all the more committed to the things that matter most to me, including writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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