IWSG – Oct 2022 – Suspense Keeps Me Sane

Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh created IWSG — because Alex understands we need a place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds good to you, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and the hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, a specific question is offered, which may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you struggle with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

My go-to answer for this month’s question: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favourite genre? is (in alphabetical order):

  • Adrenaline rush
  • Anticipation
  • Conflict
  • Empathy
  • Hero
  • Intensity
  • Pacing

(If you missed my title…) Isn’t it interesting that these elements can be assigned to any genre?

In and of itself, Suspense keeps us committed to reading the story by drawing on our emotions.

One of the best characteristics of my dear husband is his ability to make me laugh. Even in the worst of times. He has other wonderful traits. He’s unique. A one-of-a-kind, special human being. He supports me, listens and accepts me in ways I can’t say because I’ll cry.

The best characteristic of Suspense is it has caused me to be a witness to the past. Like Dear Husband, Suspense is my catharsis.

I started writing because I couldn’t cope with losing my dad. The autobiography took seven years to write. Years later when dear husband and I experienced a devastating loss, I wrote a novel about a mother torn from her family and placed in the Witness Protection program. When 911 happened, I wrote a novel about a Soviet fighting the KGB to save an American soldier. After my neighbour murdered our friend (you get the picture) I wrote a novel about a Metis terrorized by a psycho stalker. Sadly, more tragedy and I wrote a novel about a mother who loses her two adult sons and slowly relinquishes her mind. I just completed a manuscript about the isolation and loneliness of a husband after his wife is killed in a hit-and-run. Instead of agreeing to surgery to remove brain tumours, he travels to Britain for retribution.

I wrote my first manuscript (shelved) to honour the memory of my dad. Hooked on the process, I wrote five more novels. I didn’t purposely write to release the pain that life can throw at you. I wrote because I am a writer. It wasn’t until completing the second manuscript that I realized I was channelling grief through creative writing.

The plots of my stories were spun to fit the element of intrigue and fiction; (I am a storyteller, after all). The names were changed, but the themes were taken from my life. (Remember the advice: write what you know?)

I could say that I made these morbid stories publishable through edits and revisions, but the truth is all my novels contain the characteristics in the list above. They also end in hope and faith in the future.

Writing Suspense is me bearing witness to life. Writing Suspense enabled me to persevere. Because of that, I hope to write a children’s book next.

Before I forget, my ideas for my novels come from everyday questions: What if…?

Some images of suspense:

Have you ever written something for mental health benefits?

Thanks for visiting. Now I’m off to read your posts.
ps. I’m celebrating my 10th year with IWSG!

Comments 25

  1. Beautifully written and I’m grateful you can channel your grief through creative writing. I now more clearly understand why your novels are so powerful and real. As JQ Rose wrote, “keep writing from your heart.”
    Thank you for being in my life, being my friend, and influencing my writing.

  2. I never set out to use writing to channel grief or help my mental health, but I’ve definitely done both. I’m currently revising a novel I drafted right after my mother died, and I can see pieces of those emotions in it.

    I’m sorry you’ve been through so much but glad you were able to use those experiences to create. That’s a true gift.

  3. Hello Joylene,
    Always a pleasure to see you visit me. And great to see you are doing so well with your writing. One question that you might be able to answer for me. When I write an answer to someone’s comment on my blog and press publish, is the reply sent to them? As I’m unsure, I always try to type my reply on my blog and then on their blog, just in case they don’t see it!

    1. Post

      It isn’t sent, unless they click the button at the bottom specifying that they receive updates on comments. The only problem with that is you get a copy of every single comment, which can sometimes be a lot. I generally go back to the blog just in case there is a reply.

  4. You have been through so much, Joylene! It’s wonderful that you have a unique, one-of-a-kind, special human being who supports, listens to, and accepts you. We are both blessed with amazing husbands. I love suspense stories, and I enjoy all the characteristics that you listed in many genres. I have used writing throughout my life to deal with difficult emotions and mental health, mostly in journals and in some letters. Occasionally, I’ve written letters as a form of catharsis and then I’ve burned or shredded the letters. It was very helpful, because I could unload whatever emotions I was feeling without committing to words that I could never take back when my mind was cooler. I absolutely loved what you did with “Kiss of the Assassin.” What a wonderful twisty and suspenseful book. Have a happy October, my friend!

  5. I really appreciated the insights into the benefits of suspense, Joylene. You’ve helped me understand for the first time something I’ve never understood before. Personally, I can’t handle reading suspense, it makes me want to close the book and walk away. In the same way, I don’t watch horror movies or anything in that vein. It might be because I tend to be highly strung in real life and any extra stress is unwelcome and perceived as a burden. But, I get why people like it now because of your post. Good job!

  6. Hi Joylene, I can’t express enough my appreciation that you take time to visit my fledgling blog. But this post of yours here did something today, that has literally blown my mind wide open.

    I don’t know how many times I have heard and read “Write what you know.” But until I read your post today, I have never connected the dots to what it could mean to my writing. While I had always thought it meant to write about topics and stuff you know about (for me tech, strategy, business, etc.), boring stuff, until reading your post today, I never connected it with writing about my experienced emotions, anger, fear, and revengeful feelings that I felt during significant yet painful events in my history. While I don’t have to write about those events, I can certainly channel those intensities into my stories.

    This. This is why I love being a part of IWSG.

    Thank you!

  7. Wow. You’ve faced a lot of tragedy in your life. I’m glad you found a way to process it through writing. My writing is catharsis in the same way as hanging out with a friend. These characters have lived with me more than half my lifetime, though I’m sure they’d hate me if they knew I was to blame for all the horrible things that happen to them!

  8. Oh my gosh, Joylene! I knew you were brave and that you wrote tough, hard-hitting fiction. But I never knew it was based on your life. You are truly an amazing writer. More power to you. And yes. The fiction elements you describe can be assigned to any genre. A great post. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. I didn’t realize your novels were triggered by your life experiences. Writing is a wonderful way to let go of the anger, frustration, the whatever is weighing heavy on your heart. You are an excellent storyteller. Keep writing from your heart.

    1. Post

      Strangely, I didn’t realize life experiences were my catalyst for a long time. I remember a famous author said “Be Honest when you write.” At first I didn’t understand what he meant, and it wasn’t until I allowed myself to be true that my experiences came through.

    1. Post

      I worried that this post would sound morbid, and I see how it would seem I’ve had a sad life. But honestly, I’ve been very fortunate. I’m grateful for all my blessings. IWSG is one of them, Alex.

    1. Post
    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *