James and the knife (WIP) (need critique)

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TW: self harm and eating issues. This is a rough description of someone's experience with self harm. I just need someone to explain if this style is effective or not for a book I'm writing. I guess what I'm going for is something raw and cathartic. Please be honest, I would appreciate any feedback.

Drama / Other
Age Rating:


Author’s note: this is a rough description of someone struggling with self harm. It’s a little graphic, so TW for self harm and eating issues. I just need someone to tell me if the style is effective or not, need this for my book. Please be brutally honest and enjoy.

James realized that this feeling was something like he had never felt before. Every time he made an incision, a fire ate through that spot to his core. He was being shot again and again with a concentrated amount of life, which could be dangerous in heavy doses. But James liked the danger. He wanted to make up for every part of life he couldn’t- or wouldn’t- live. The way he saw it, this was just his way of “catching up”. There were actually many ways he saw this situation; it was a multi-faceted issue, after all. He should have differing perspectives, so that a little bit of every side gets thrown into the most reasonable compromise. But James thought about it, he really thought about every part of the situation. Went down its factors like groceries on a shopping list, and he was taking an exceedingly tedious time deciding if he really needed each item on the list.

The first thing he thought about was the feeling. It’s an evasive emotion that lays only a quarter mile away, except it never gets farther and it never gets closer. But any time he cut, he could feel a part of him experience the start of that feeling. It was the start and the end and everything in between. It was both such a superficial response and an infinitely satisfying decision. It was enough to keep him coming back for more. Isn’t that the name of the game, anyway? Alcoholics, gamblers, politicians. They know the taste of this too well. This is the water a desert island survivor drinks for the first time again, this is the food he eats. It’s every first reconnection he has to a world that says, “It’s all going to be okay one day,” Even a child might feel this feeling, in the toy store, and they just want a touch of the new streamlined 10-cycle Shooting Star bike. If you can stop your hands before touching it, that’s considered very mature. James was only mature for a short time when he was 5 years old and decided watching Power Rangers was too childish for him. But that was then. This is now.

And the thing about it was, he could never stop thinking about it either. It came to him in different forms- sometimes like a burn deep in the back of his throat, other times like a water expanding Orbeez in the center of his chest that pushed his heart into the corner of his lungs. He couldn’t breathe sometimes without bleeding. It was getting to the point that he felt, in order to breathe, he needed to make tears all across his arms. He had to let the fire out somehow. Or was it in? But James will think about this problem as if it’s brand new to him every passing second. It’s a brain teasing mechanism he can’t solve, and he’s tied to a chair, in the dark. But he has to solve this, he needs the prize of freedom.

Even though this is a ridiculous analogy of a situation that would never happen, thinking this way tortured him. He had a constant stream of thoughts run under his mainly functioning thoughts, a lot like the riptide in the ocean. These thoughts were stronger, they were dangerous to the ideas being kicked upstream or floating downstream. You had to stray away from this part of the mind because it can yank you right out of reality. If you’re not careful, these thoughts take away parts of you that you never get back. He didn’t think about making this a part of his daily life, but much like in real life, this is only a natural phenomenon. Shit happens sometimes. The axis becomes unbalanced, the earth upturned. Life can only be lived through crises and change. Some people can’t help but feel they need to go harder with it. Some people won’t help but think that this isn’t enough. James was one such person.

He would use the term ‘addicted’ loosely. It’s true that this is a recurring problem. It’s also technically true that this doesn’t have to be a problem. This can be a celebration, an awareness of self. But he’s constantly aware of himself feeling this way, and it affects every decision he makes. When he wakes up, if the tide is strong, he’ll lay back down and regret living in modern day society. When he opens the pantry, he’ll think, is it really worth eating now? Which loosely translates to: is it really worth trying to eat when it’s just getting so damn hard?

The idea is a beautifully carved glass sculpture in his head. He’s always chiseling it, melting it and stretching it under the seering focus of an intention to regress or heal. As he works on it, more shards fly into the expansive space within his skull. They lodge themselves into other thoughts that he has throughout the day, and in this way, bit by bit, his life becomes no longer his to live. He gives it all to the glass sculpture. Working on it, getting closer and closer to a perfect work of art, is the single most cathartic experience of his life. He’s an artist obsessed with an unreachable idea. His position now is hopeless. When he looks at the statue’s gleaming surface, it looks like it holds all of Heaven’s light. There’s something incredibly comforting about touching it, and as he reaches his arms around the statue, presses his body into its shiny novelty, its half shattered surface adds new strokes and more depth to the ones already there. Have you seen what blood looks like on glass?

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