I remember reading one of those “best advice for writers” articles that told me I should never let life get in the way of my writing. It’s good advice, but I know from my own experience, living that philosophy can be impossible.
My sister died suddenly. Although she had a serious illness and death was imminent – no one expected her to go so quickly. She was my best friend. I thought I would be by her side, when she left this life, but it all happened too quickly.
Some days the grief and sadness are paralyzing. Those days I can’t move or do anything to stop the pain. Admitted they are getting fewer all the time. But those feelings definitely get in the way of my writing.
It’s been over four months since her death. Her children buried her ashes on Mother’s Day, but I wasn’t there. I’ve never found anything consoling about a grave – it’s not what I want to remember about someone – especially someone with whom I shared my entire life. I want to remember her. She was so much more than a stone marker.
Dealing with the loss of someone close is difficult and coming to terms with that loss takes a long time. Being a writer, I find my fictional worlds interrupted. No matter how much the writer in me wants to write, at times the grief dominates.
Last October I signed a contract with a publisher. I got the first round of edits in February, the day after my sister’s funeral. May 5, three months to the day after her death, marked the release of my e-book. Some of the greatest moments of my writing life – the signing my first professional writing contract and release of my first book – have been very hard to celebrate.
I’m living in two different worlds.
In one world, my life is busy. I have a wonderful family and terrific friends, and enjoy a healthy active existence. I’m happy and thrilled to be a published author. I want to celebrate this accomplishment. I want to publish more stories and continue on the path I chose for my retirement. I want to throw all my energy into my pursuit as a writer. I have so many ideas and stories to tell.
Then life gets in the way and I can’t seem to get the words onto the paper.
In the other world, I’m sometimes drowning in the loss. Silly things bring my sister back to me – a song, an old sweater, a commercial for her regular grocery store, or even the smell of a Bar-B-Q. Sometimes I forget she’s gone and dial her phone number, and then reality hits. The pain and hurt take over.
I know it’s getting better. Time is allowing me to heal, but I do wonder sometimes how long it will take before I can think of her without feeling lost or dealing with the sadness. I’m looking forward to the day when my memories of her bring a smile to my face. I know how much she loved me and influenced my life. I cherish the strength and endurance she taught me. She was my super hero.
The effect of her life on the people around her, will last forever. The effects of her death will eventually disappear.
I’m writing a new book and I’m finally starting to make some headway. Regardless of my plans and intentions, it’s been a struggle. As a writer, I know my writing is improved and I’m depicting people and emotions much clearer in this current work, than in everything else I’ve written.
I have to wonder if life gets in the way of a writer, or if life IS THE WAY for a writer to mature and grow the craft into something special.