By: Marilyn L. Davis, Editor-In-Chief
Another Long-Distance Connection
I’ve been fortunate as the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate to meet writers who’ve taught me how to write better, entertained me, and inspired me. Ben Rose, author of Everybody But Us and The Long Game, is one of those.
Most of the people that we meet today are through long-distance, short-click connections via the internet. Initially, I reached out to Ben after reading some of his posts on Facebook. I knew he had a powerful story to tell and asked him to write a short post for From Addict 2 Advocate, and he contributed a Thursday Truths story.
Ben’s is full of abuses, misdiagnoses, trauma, and uncertainty. It’s also full of hope and encouragement for anyone with Asperger’s, PTSD, substance abuse, and other lingering issues.
Write the Hard Truths
I think what makes Ben such a powerful writer is that he doesn’t shy away from the hard truths, nor does he sugar-coat them, and the language is authentic. It’s one thing for an author to sit in their book-lined, plant-filled, guest-room turned office and try to write dialogue that they think sounds like their imagined characters; it’s another to write based on recollections.
Ben writes dialogue and reflective thoughts for his characters in both books that ring true. While neither is a memoir, there is a lot of “Ben” in the books.
The language, dialogue, and themes are personal. Even when a character is female, many of her feelings and thoughts reflect Ben’s days of riding the rails, being bullied due to Asperger’s, having physical issues, not fitting in, and using drugs and alcohol to cope.
Write In Any Gender
In Best 1000 Words for the Image Contest: Ben Rose: There But for the Grace, we have a female character who knows the world of burned-out buildings, living rough in a make-shift camp, absent parents, and adults who prey rather than protect.
And it reads true for this female. Another one of Ben’s strengths as a writer is this ebb and flow between genders. I’ve never tried to write from a male’s perspective because I’m not sure it would be authentic – Ben’s is, whether it’s his male or female characters.
Ben explains his approach to writing in the Two Drops of Ink post, Truth in Fiction: Reality-Based Novels
“I created chronologically young people who have survived savage abuse, neglect, and emotional trauma. They survived by their own rules and by the only means available to them. Those methods worked…until they didn’t.
Readers frequently ask if any part of myself exists in the characters I create. I believe every author leaves a part of themselves in their characters. How could that not be the case? I am not my character, but events and experiences throughout my life are woven into my stories because they are authentic. My life and the lives of my characters are complex and challenging; they convey the harm done to and by people when they are trying to survive.”
Survivors Don’t Show Self-Pity
If Ben’s writing only reflected the horrors, we’d have sympathy. Still, there is a fierce determination in the characters and Ben to portray the experience without, as he says, “Holding the reader hostage, or let the writing become a soap opera for the sake of eliciting unearned emotion.”
How does he accomplish this?
“My answer is to spew emotion onto the page. Let all the hurt, the rage, the unrequited lust, the hatred, all of it cover the page. Cuss freely and often if you wish. Hold back nothing. And then…only then…edit the mess into something worthy. Trim off the worst parts. Shape and polish the novel. Then do it a few more times.”
Authentic In Writing and Recovery
Ben is an inspiration in his recovery as well. He doesn’t gloss over the inflicted and self-inflicted harm of his addiction. For a reader, this is important to show as many aspects of an issue, so they understand. For the writer, this can be a cathartic experience.
In his post, Recovery: Why Money Matters, Ben reveals his obsessive need to have things that showed others his importance in his addiction.
“In my case, the lack of self-esteem increased as my addiction spiraled. Trying to bolster my image, I bought clothing and accessories far beyond my needs.
Where a basic dress shirt from Penny’s would have sufficed, I bought Armani and Versace. Where a nice off-the-rack sports jacket would do, I purchased it from Brioni. Thinking that if I dressed to fit a particular image, I would fit in never happened. I also believed that if I frequented high-end restaurants and clubs, I would be accepted and feel comfortable with the elite. That never happened, either.”
These disclosures are a way to show others the subtle ways that addiction takes over a life. Giving up his Armani, Brioni, and high-end restaurants in favor of a life based on helping others took a lot of inner work and healing.
The tag line for From Addict 2 Advocate is “Writing and recovery heal.” I think Ben Rose personifies this.
I hope that you’ll buy Ben’s books, read his posts, and adopt some of his approaches to telling the story -whether it’s your own in a memoir or you create a character that resonates with us. Either way, you’ll be entertained, enchanted, or inspired as a reader and a writer.
Bio: Ben Rose
Ben is an Oregon native who currently resides on The Florida Gulf. He has traveled extensively by bus, car, freight train, Amtrak, and foot to see America and find stories to write.
Born at the end of the turbulent sixties, his travels began in his formative years. Early in life, he developed a love of cheap motels, greasy spoons, and great comedians.
He speaks fluent hipster as well as English and a smattering of French.
Ben is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, a supporter of human rights, and a believer in racial and gender equality.
As one with Asperger’s, GAD, and PTSD, Ben has seen his share of hard traveling, abuse, and bullying, all reflected in his literary works.
He currently resides with his beautiful better half and their emotional support cat.
Follow Ben on Social Media:
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