What a sweet thought…
Unfortunately, I found chocolate to be much sweeter than thoughts of 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 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 its 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 life, but my ability to pay bills and continue purchasing food 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 overdramatized 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.
I’ve heard 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 hot 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 a story, their “happily ever after” becomes something that just might happen to me, if I keep trying.
…and isn’t a happy ending a million times tastier than the best cup of hot chocolate? J
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 is also no barista named “Bob”, I simply said whatever name came to mind.