How I know my novel was therapy… and why it may make you uncomfortable.

November 22, 2020



I had a thought today. People are going to read my words and thoughts, read about “me”. The real me. The deep me. The crazy me. The scary me. The insecure me. The mean me. The vulnerable me. The sexual me. Me. Of course I’m not my whole novel. I’m not a detective and certainly not as brave as my protagonist. But I’ve read authors’ sharing these same feelings too. People reading your words/thoughts. Scary!

Essentially though, I write about truth, about what most people are too afraid to say.

My friends know me well because I’m honest, sometimes blunt, open and not afraid to be. But I play many different parts, depending on whom I’m with. And I’m aware of that and completely open about it.

We all play different parts. This is the essence of my novel. How we hide ourselves from others and the fear of others’ judgements. How the insecurities hiding deep within us, terrify us with the threat of rising and slapping us across the face. There’s nothing worst than hiding yourself from yourself. But I’ve done that too.

Yes, this novel was my therapy. Like Claire, my protagonist, we’ve shared some stuff.

That agoraphobia she’s been through: I felt it for 8 months, unable to step outside my house without the debilitating sensation that I was going to die.

That marriage break-up: I’ve been through that too. I’ve lost friends, suffered much judgement, been scrutinised, run down to my face, bullied, bitched about and had people from my small community frothing over my new romance.

The way some people reacted to that choice was now, in hindsight so absurd and antiquated that I can’t help but laugh. They treated my divorce as some sort of injustice toward them. I found that people who were genuinely happy and content in their relationships were the most supportive. They didn’t feel threatened by my single-dom.

The big-romantic-age-gap: That’s me also. Do I care? Nope. I’ve never been one to follow societies expectations. My choices are mine.

Someone in my Curtis Brown Course, actually heaps of them, commented on the anger within Claire, and why she’s so mean to other people. Yes, that’s been me too. When you don’t like yourself, you’re cruel to others. I mean, isn’t that why all cruel people are cruel?

Like Claire, I’ve had the false friendships, the competitive female relationships, the “keeping up with the Joneses”.

I’ve turned myself inside out with getting to know the real Holly. That’s why I write about real stuff.

I write about things that are raw, uncomfortable and maybe even off-putting to some people who don’t really know me. I’m prepared for that because I learnt a long time ago that whatever someone thinks about me is completely their business and their right.

My story was absolutely therapy. And I’ve been through MUCH therapy in the last 6 years. When it becomes published, people will be reading me. And I think I’ve got to get used to that.

But still… the therapy continues with the writing. And that’s why most writers write. That’s why I sit at my computer and tap away at the keys. A new story, a new chapter, more to discover about me.