About a month or two ago I read If I Stay, by Gayle Foreman because I knew the movie was coming out and I knew I needed to read the book now. If I saw the movie first I would never get to the book (I don't do well with spoilers). There were tears so I know the book was a good one. I reviewed it on here if you want a more in depth look at my feelings.
I had pretty much forgotten the book at this point. I didn't think it would be on my reread list and the sequel isn't on the top of my to read list. Today, however, I might give it another chance after reading this article by the author.
You would never know by the beginning of the article that the same woman who wrote If I Stay wrote this article. It starts out like most travel articles. She is traveling through India while on a whirl wind tour of the world with her husband when she meets a nice local who cures her sickness. It is only at the end that you realize who Gayle Foreman really is and where her idea for If I Stay came from.
To me this article demonstrated the healing power of writing and how taking the time to write out your feelings can help you cope with loss. In the article Gayle describes this well.
"Mia's family...were resurrected from the ashes of my loss. A loss that no longer had the power to sucker punch but instead had become part of me, like a scar, or maybe a smile line."I believe that writing has the power to relieve you from the pain of life. As in Gayle's case, writing allowed her to give the ones she had lost a new life through her story. This helped her cope with their loss and allowed her to move on in some ways.
Books give us all a little taste of immortality. In the most apparent way, the author gains immortality when they leave pieces of themselves in their writing. They will forever be known by the readers of their book. In another way, the author can create immortal beings through their characters. Gayle used her loved ones as molds for her characters and gave those who were gone a new life within the pages of her book (and I don't mean like Inkheart). This is more of a knowing that her characters will always be safely tucked away in the pages of her books. Fleshing them out was a cathartic way to preserve their memory.
So fleshing out people onto the pages of a book can be a way to heal from the trauma of loss. When we lose someone the thing we fear most is forgetting them. By writing them into a book we preserve their memory. We can always look back through the pages with a sad smile.
Characters are like a carbon copy of the real life people. Practically the same but just a little faded around the edges. Never to be destroyed.