Those of you who read this blog regularly have probably noticed I've been a little MIA lately. I managed right after the New Year to put together a post with an excerpt from my book, Treadmill Tales, but I'll admit that wasn't as time consuming as many of my other entries. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned on social media that I didn't get a post up because I spent the entire morning on the phone with my mother, which was accurate, but the honest truth is that life has simply invaded my brain in a way that has left little room for anything else.
Since Christmas, my friends-and-family death count currently stands at four. As my kids would have said when they were preschoolers, one shy of a whole hand. Four people who have touched my life who will no longer be a part of it until I join them in heaven. I will admit that I was closer to some of them more than others, but all of them where amazingly beautiful souls who will be missed dearly. The one who was the hardest for me to handle was number three on the list, for multiple reasons. After spending a full week near tears I began to pull myself together after this dear friend's death, only to receive the news of my uncle's passing a day later. I had managed only one day of dry eyes. When my mother called with the news, I remember saying to her, "I can't handle another one."
I have struggled with feeling callous, because after a week of being perpetually weepy my eyes were strangely dry at the news. I firmly believe I was simply out of tears. My well of emotion had run dry. As friends came to check up on me, I told one that I felt like I had become an island state. Every emotion I was capable of, from joy to sorrow and everything in between, had simply become varying shades of gray.
As you can imagine, all of that has immensely affected my writing.
With my foggy brain, the story of my current novel was equally foggy. I love writing this blog, but it faded into insignificance for a while. In my island state, I have felt like I've been floating at sea. (Yes, I know islands don't float. Just stay with me.) My imagination, which is arguably an author's most important tool in their trade, was broken.
What I have realized, however, was that I needed to let this process affect me. I needed to let my love for those who have died in this last month to become part of my work. Had I tried to bury myself in writing with a crap brain, I would have created crap work that would have infested the story in ways I wouldn't have wanted it to. In the end, I'm discovering that all fog clears, and when it does the colors are more vivid than ever before. A month later, the story is still there ready and waiting for me. I find myself genuinely grateful that I stepped away for a little while, because now I have fresh eyes.
I have spoken often that the death of a character, in my opinion, has very little to do with the character who dies and everything to do with how it affects everyone around them. Dealing with death four times over in the last month will add new color to my writing from here on out. I look forward to seeing where it takes me.
Acknowledge that life will affect your writing. Better yet, let it happen. Muscling through might be the right answer in some situations, but it is okay to be aware when it's not. I have found myself thinking of when I heard JK Rowling talk about how she had started writing the first Harry Potter book just before her mother died. It affected those books. They became darker, which in my opinion is one of the best things about those stories. While I can only dream at this point of being as prolific of a writer as Rowling, I can find myself empathizing with that and hope to learn from it.
Now I look forward to continuing the story in vivid color. Again, all fog lifts.
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