Hydra Voices features the talented authors who make up the Hydra Publication family offering up their takes on writing, publishing, book marketing and life in general. Today’s post is from Rebekah McAuliffe, author of Gears of Golgotha, a steampunk dystopian Hydra bestseller.
Writing as a Coping Tool
I think Forrest Gump put it best when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”
At least, my life has been that way.
That’s not to say I’m not grateful for all that’s happened to me. I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist. I’m graduating college in less than a year. I have family, friends, and a boyfriend who love me. But a lot of not-so-fun things have happened, too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. My name’s Rebekah. I wrote Gears of Golgotha, a steampunk dystopian novel from Hydra Publications. It won third place in the Preditors and Editors Best Steampunk Novel category back in 2014, and it’s a Hydra bestseller. To be honest, I never thought I’d be here: a published author, with actual fans of my work (it’s still so weird to say the word “fans”). It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, I wouldn’t let anyone read my work; it was hard for me to let my teachers read it, let alone my peers. But here I am, being paid for doing something I love.
And something that I have long used as therapy.
While I credit my start in writing to vowing to kick little Nicholas’ butt in first grade, I think my true beginning was in seventh grade with my short story, Chapparelle’s World, a fantasy about a young woman who must confront her demons in a coma after a suicide attempt. The world was set up like a child’s fantasy land, complete with dragons, castles, princes, princesses, an evil queen, probably reflective of my child-like mind and the depression that engulfed me at the time. I always describe the story as Edgar Allen Poe meets Alice in Wonderland. I had been writing for about five years at that point, but not outside of school. However, it was when I made it to the county wide semi-finals for Young Authors with my story that I realized how much I enjoyed writing.
And how much I truly needed it.
The symptoms of my then undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder only continued to get worse throughout my teenage years, but the whole time, the written word was there to help me process everything. It was one of the few friends I had. What I couldn’t express vocally, I could express on the page. I remember when I was in middle school and even early high school—after a rough day at school, which was usually every day, I would sit in my room on my old Windows 95 computer (a gift from a family friend), blaring Radio Disney, and writing for hours (by the way, don’t tell my boyfriend that I was a nerd for the Jonas Brothers; I’m supposed to be cool). I would write short stories, novels; I even had several screenplays and a few (crappy) songs. The computer has since died, and my biggest regret is that I never saved them or even printed them.
Expressing ourselves can be extremely difficult, especially for people with disabilities. But the solace that I have found is in writing, especially blogging and writing novels. I use them as a tool for coping. Every story I have ever written since Chapparelle’s World has been about dealing with and coming to terms with the obstacles in my life. With Chapparelle’s World, it was a crippling depression. Gears of Golgotha was about coping with anxiety and a new environment, as I began the book relatively early in my college career. My next book, ALPHA, has proven to be the most difficult—processing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and letting out my anger at the corruption, greed, and prejudice going on even today in a healthy way. If America can stoop so low as to condone and even fund government-sanctioned human experimentation, which is pretty much what MKULTRA was, what does that say about us? Are we really as blameless as we have been lead to believe? These questions have no straightforward answer, and that’s what makes writing ALPHA so hard. But it’s better than screaming in people’s faces and throwing things against the wall.
I know this seems like a lot of information, but I believe that this is all a testament to the power of the written word. Writing has been my friend, my companion for years. I want my stories to inspire people, to help them cope with the obstacles in life that they may feel to be insurmountable. I also want my stories to make a statement, to stand up for people who may not be able to stand up for themselves. In the end, I want my writing to just help—help me in my struggles, and in others’.
Love and Coffee cups,
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