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Write On!
Alternative Analysis
By Ken Robinson
January, 2006, 15:35

herapy can be expensive.

You know what Iím talking about. You pay someone exorbitant amounts of money to listen to you complain about and blame your mother for everything that has ever gone wrong in your life, including (especially!) that ingrown toenail in Ď84. But thereís an inexpensive alternative.

The following is a first-person account. I once had, over the holidays, an unforeseen, one-sided separation in a long-term relationship. I should have seen it coming, what with all the strife and stress that had been going on. I had also just begun writing horror and thriller screenplays. Now I donít watch scary movies so as not to scare myself to death with a nightmare, mid-sleep.

Like the one where a ferocious dachshund with 100 legs has escaped from a canine asylum for the criminally insane. I wake up, realize itís trying to scuttle and wheeze and sputter and buzz up onto the bed and gnash its way under the covers. It comes for my head, foaming at the mouthful of exacto-knife teeth. Although it turns out to be Jake the one-eyed wiener-dog with four short legs, my heart still races.

And, yeah, it did happen when I watched The Grudge. My bed sheets too almost paid the ultimate price.

But I digress. In the last few years, since I started writing the scary, gruesome stuff, somewhere around 81 victims have met an untimely and, generally, altogether unique demise at my hand. Some even deserved it.

I can honestly say, though, that Iíve resisted taking to the streets and killing people randomly, even when a situation in my life made me really, really want to. A counselor confirmed that this was a win-win situation both for me and random people on the street. She also said that bottling up those emotions would eventually lead to the cork popping off under immense pressure.

So I became a pseudo serial killer in my writing. I came to enjoy knocking off anyone I wanted, any way I wanted, and as painfully as I wanted. If you read some of it youíll see that I was one very, very angry dude. And I thought I was handling it all quite well.

Some people can discuss their problems with other people. For others thatís not even an option. They do much better writing about them in journals and blogs and such. Some writers use a fictionalization of the real life drama, wherein the characters they create deal with the emotional fallout of the trauma. As the character goes, so goes the writer.

This last month of December has given me, as well, plenty of literary fodder. My mother died from complications of cancer. Within one week (and two hours) my mother in law passed, from motor neuron disease akin to Lou Gehrigs disease. Both are very debilitating, dignity-diminishing diseases.

My mom had had cancer for some time, but chemotherapy had kept it somewhat under control, until last month. She didnít actually die from the cancer. Growths in her intestines stopped up her intestines so she couldnít eat. The doctors didnít even offer to operate. She literally wasted away. When I found out I was in denial for about a week or so. Iím now in the anger stage.

For comic relief, I had a root canal the week between the two. But I hope I can put the anger to good use. The experts in all the writing books say to write what you know, so, well, this is what I know right now. Iím also channeling all this energy into a script dealing with the issue of death.

The script may turn out to be a piece of garbage, but when youíre to others in a profound way. When itís this close to you itís your voice that is speaking, not a bad copy of someone elseís.

Iím not sure if itís the audienceís life experience or the writerís emotional energy that infuses a scene with the visceral charge it needs to come to life. Itís likely some sort of combination of the two. I am certain that itís emotional engagement that keeps readers coming back, again and again, to the best works of literature.

Whether all of this will help me get through the grieving process, I donít know. Hopefully, one day Iíll be able to look back on it all with resolution and say,

ďIt sure did!ĒIN Icon

Ken Robinson grew up and lives in Oklahoma. After five years in Ireland, he's been writing screenplays for two and a half years. Four of his scripts have been optioned by Woofenil Works, two low-budget projects now in preproduction, as well as West Law. His email address

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