As you all know, I have a tendency to eavesdrop, snoop, and take advantage of the drama around me to add a touch of spice or interest to my stories. We all have our buttons that send us to the keyboard ready to turn the day into the tale we want to tell. How do you imagine the joy of a new love as it fills your characters’ lives? How do you create the angst that comes with torment and dismay? Or, how do you describe loss so that the reader feels the pain? We live with these emotions.
We’ve just lost an important member of our family. It happened both quickly and also over a long time. The decline was slow but the end was fast. We were both ready and not ready at all. She had a difficult personality but was admired and loved. Family are joking about lightening bolts striking us, yet the Kleenex is right at hand.
This has caused me to leave my writing on the back burner while we all are managing details, emotions, phone calls, emails, letters and even tax filings. But, that is not the point I am trying to make.
We think we can write the deep, dark and daring. We can. We do it all the time. There are moments, though, when it’s hard to separate what our characters want and what we are feeling. As people, where do we separate ourselves from our writing? Where do we create fantasy? Where are the boundaries?
I think of Joan Didion. This is not fantasy. How she was able to write what she has is amazing to me. Rather, I suspect that it was her therapy—her escape from the demons that must haunt her.
I share this with you not to ask for any sympathy, please not so. We absorb our experiences and turn them into words for others to read. Or, maybe not. Maybe there are words that stay within us, solely for our own use. Next week, next month, or next year they might be ready to be public. Hopefully then they will still have the poignancy of what is felt in the moment and not colored by our need to bury the sharp edges and the tough decisions.
I leave before dawn for travel across the country. Memorial services, coffee and cookies, lots of hugs. I will check in as I can given plane travel and all. If you find me less present, I hope you understand.
Thank you all for listening.