by Brooklyn James (Author of The Boots My Mother Gave Me, An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter Finalist)

I enjoyed reading Robert French’s guest blog about depression and its correlation to writing. His blog got me thinking about my own relationship with writing.

The completion of my first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, was a New Year’s resolution. I had no intentions of completing a book. The coming of age Dysfiction is about a young girl overcoming an abusive childhood. Growing up in a dysfunctional, abusive household, I had some excess baggage I needed to drop off at the dump. My New Year’s resolution was to do just that through a cathartic written exploration of my life experiences. I started the writing process with a nonfiction approach. At page 70, I hit a roadblock and simply could not continue. I started over with the mindset to follow my innate storyteller in remedying my experiences by allowing myself to throw in some fiction here and there, which I found to be much more tolerable than real life. I always ask my readers: If you could rewrite the script of your life, what would it be?

I am in no way delusional about my childhood or how I have chosen to process and allow that experience to shape me. However, I found it quite liberating to rewrite it, coming to terms with and mending what was broken in the words of my story. It is the cheapest and most rewarding therapy I have yet to experience.

Being a singer/songwriter in the Live Music Capital of Austin, Texas, I was in studio with production of my first full-length original album at the same time I was purging my story. While in studio, I realized some of my tracks shared titles with chapters within my book. And each song title that shared a chapter title was in fact inspired by that moment in my life. In my mind, we had no choice but to combine the two, as both the book and the album were created out of the same vein, so to speak. So, was the birth of the original music soundtrack to accompany the novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me.

We were invited by our local PBS affiliate to do a televised forum…a combination of literature and music. We did readings from the novel interspersed with acoustic music performances from the soundtrack, providing an emotional underbelly to each scene, much the same a musical score does for a movie. We called the forum, Creativity Is Therapy. To this day, all the gigs, book signings and appearances I’ve made, that was the most memorable…the most prolific for me.

The same as Robert French so eloquently narrated that depression can be molded as a positive in writing, so can our demons. Creativity IS therapy. Novelist, Brian W. Aldiss said, “Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.” Whatever your art—be it writing, painting, cooking—get healthy, get creative. GOT MILK…GOT CREATIVE THERAPY?

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