What a sweet thought…
Unfortunately, I found the taste of chocolate much sweeter than love and for this reason, there was a dark time when chocolate was the shiny key to making my little world go round (no, that wasn’t a fat joke).
On a bad day (be it a freezing winter’s morning or the hottest afternoon in July), I’d pull into the drive thru of PJ’s Coffee, twitching with angst as I’d tearfully sob into the speaker, “Please, one Super-Duper-Grande steaming hot chocolate with extra chocolate and extra whipped cream… hurry Bob!!*”
Once the hot chocolate was in my hands, I’d drink away my worries and the universe, realigned, fell back into it's orderly ways.
This frantic drive-thru scenario was reenacted at least once a day.
As any addict will tell you, feeding one’s addiction can be expensive.
In six months’ time, I’d spent at least $378 on hot chocolate alone.
Writing short stories heroically saved, not only my health, but my ability to pay bills and continue purchasing foods other than chocolate.
Here’s how it happened…
One evening, after listening to "This American Life" (or some such equally grown up-ish radio show that makes me feel old) on NPR, I came to the conclusion that I had something in common with the over-dramatized victim of the NPR story. I too, used food (and chocolate infused drink) as an emotional band-aide.
I realized that it would be much less expensive and a lot healthier to, when frazzled, instead of grabbing ten snickers bars and a steaming cup of hot chocolate, simply write a short story.
After all, writing about a determined character who faces frustrating circumstances and pushes through until she reaches her happy ending is empowering.
So, instead of closing my eyes and nearly inhaling whatever piece of chocolate I’d bought, I kept my eyes open, wrote, and as the words began to flow, it gradually dawned on me that things weren’t so bad! My depths of despair weren’t as deep as my character’s and even more importantly, if she was able to overcome her obstacles, then so would I.
A friend once explained to me that when we dream, it’s as if our mind is filing away bits of random information (most of this information coming from our subconscious). I feel like the same happens while I’m writing. Worries, fears, and thoughts that I haven’t acknowledged (probably because, until now, they’ve been buried under layers of chocolate) surface and find their place in my stories.
While I’m writing, I can’t help but look at my characters and see myself. In so doing, their happy ending becomes more than just a part of some story, their “happily ever after” becomes something that just might happen to me, if I keep trying.
...and I have to say that a happy ending is a million times tastier than the best cup of hot chocolate
So, how is writing therapeutic for you?
* Please note that there is no such drink at PJ’s, I was usually just out of my mind whilst ordering. There was also no barista named “Bob”, I simply said whatever name came to mind.
Paula Jones is a Louisiana based author with an avid interest in storytelling via film.
She self-published her first YA book, Finding Stories in The Rain, in 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed the self-publishing process. She continues to write short stories, averaging one per month, and posts them online for the viewing public at Your Verve Magazine Online.
When it comes to writing, film making, and the occasional stab at acting, Paula keeps Charlie Chaplin’s famous quote in mind, “Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”