Today I’m delighted to present a guest post by Miriam Drori, the author of Style and The Solitary.
Writing About Social Anxiety
Guest Post for Reading Tonic by Miriam Drori
I don’t write solely about social anxiety, but, as it happens, the three books currently available all involve social anxiety. My (unavailable) romance and historical fiction don’t mention it and neither do any of my short stories.
But I’d like to share my experience, and hope it’s useful for anyone writing about mental illness as well as for all readers.
The story begins in 2003. With my increasing passion to using writing to raise awareness of social anxiety, came an awareness that I would have to ‘come out’ as a person with social anxiety. This was a gradual process that included starting a blog. I gave the blog a name, An’ de Walls Came Tumblin’ Down, but I myself remained anonymous until I eventually ventured a first name and later a full name. The reaction I was most scared to receive was ridicule. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened – online, at least.
Starting with Non-fiction
I didn’t have a plan, but I’m glad with the way my writing progressed. Beginning the process with non-fiction helped me to sort out what I’d learned about social anxiety from various sources, including – and probably most importantly – fellow ‘sufferers’ I met online. In fact, the finished book, Social Anxiety Revealed, includes numerous quotes from people who gave permission for me to share their words on condition that no names would be attached to them.
When I decided to try to create a fictional character with social anxiety, the first question I asked myself was: Am I too close to it? How can someone with social anxiety stand back and describe the character from the viewpoints of people who don’t understand the character’s behaviour?
I heard, or read, suggestions that I was too close. But isn’t it precisely the job of a fiction writer to see the world through other eyes?
This is one reason why I began the novel, which became Cultivating a Fuji, by describing the character from different points of view. It is only in Chapter 5 that the reader is finally shown the inside of his head.
Making Sure the Character Isn’t Me
To avoid suggestions that my novels are autobiographical, I enforce differences in them. The characters with social anxiety, in my books, are mostly male. The one who is female came to social anxiety in a completely different way from me. Our backgrounds couldn’t be more diverse.
How to Make the Character Interesting
A character with social anxiety might appear, to the reader, to be boring. It’s certainly one way that other characters might view that character. But people with social anxiety aren’t at all boring on the inside. Their heads are full of the thoughts that led social anxiety to flare up in the first place. So, as long as I bring those thoughts to the forefront, the characters can’t be boring people.
On top of that, as with all novels, the plot needs to hold the reader’s attention. In Cultivating a Fuji, the character is sent to represent his company in Japan. The novel explores his exploits in that country and, even more importantly, how that experience affects him on his return home to the UK. In Style and the Solitary, the character is arrested for murder, and social anxiety prevents him from explaining his innocence.
Also, like all main characters, he has to change. That doesn’t mean that his social anxiety suddenly vanishes, but only that he learns to open up more than he did, showing that there is hope for him in this world.
Who Will Read It?
I have to admit that, despite my conviction that my non-fiction guide, Social Anxiety Revealed is for everyone, because everyone knows someone who suffers from social anxiety, readers have been mostly twofold:
- People who suffer/live with social anxiety
- People who treat/help people with social anxiety
I don’t think I’ve yet managed to reach teachers or parents, although I believe both of those groups need to be aware, because social anxiety usually appears in adolescence and is much easier to treat at that age.
Contrastingly, readers of the novels, Cultivating a Fuji and Style and the Solitary, have been more diverse. Some have encountered social anxiety and its effects for the first time and, for me, that’s one of the outcomes that make writing worthwhile.
Style and the Solitary
An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.
A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure. The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.
Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?
His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?
She coerces her flatmates, Yarden and Tehila, into helping her investigate. As they uncover new trails, will they be able to reverse popular opinion?
In the end, will Beauty’s belief be strong enough to waken the Beast? Or, in this case, can Style waken the Solitary?
Purchase Link – mybook.to/styleandthesolitary
Author Bio –
When Miriam Drori says she loves to perform, people don’t believe her. When she says she’s not shy, they think she’s delusional. The fact is, things ain’t what they seem. A witch called social anxiety took away her ability to be spontaneous, but it didn’t change her exhibitionist nature. You need to watch her dancing or speaking before an audience to understand that.
Fortunately, she has found an outlet for her thoughts in writing, a solitary activity with multiple recipients. She never doubted her ability to write, but only in recent years has she managed to gather her views and observations together into papier-mâché balls worth throwing far and wide.
If you ignore the witch, life has been good to Miriam, especially since she made the decision to move from the UK to Israel. She has a wonderful husband, three lovely children and a delightful house. She loves to read, travel, hike and dance. She has worked in computer programming and technical writing, and now enjoys the freedom and versatility of creative writing. And she believes passionately in raising awareness of social anxiety.
Social Media Links –
Amazon page: Author.to/MiriamDroriAtAmazon
Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori (Open INT)
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Thank you to Miriam for her guest post giving us a valuable insight into how authors write about social anxiety in their books. Wishing Miriam and her books lots of success!
Have a wonderful Tuesday!