WRITING TIP: For difficult topics, provide appropriate anaesthesia

“Naked truth is unbearable to most,” says author Anais Nin, “and art is our most effective means of overcoming human resistance to truth.” Through art, we can look sideways at something — use it as a buffer that gives us an experience without the feeling of great danger that can make us shut down with trauma when something happens to us in “real” life. It is the difference between watching a movie about dying or living ourselves through the dying process: the first can be a practice run, where we can access feeling without being carried away by hope and fear. In this way, we can face our fears and our nightmares from the safety of our livingroom chair — and heal ourselves in the process. As writers, it is good to keep in mind the power of this vicarious experience and provide buffers of meaning to the reader. Says Nin: “The writer has the same role as the surgeon, and his handling of anaesthesia is as important as his skill with the knife.”