Archives for posts with tag: the writing life

​After struggling to regain my writer’s equilibrium, first due to the escalating crisis as my mom’s life slowly wound to its close and then this painful, disorienting year in the aftermath of her death, I’m finally getting back to my writing life. In a previous post I wrote about deciding to try writing on my tablet, as a way to get back into regular writing. I can now say unequivocally that it was a smart move. 

I had been working on a story a little (a very little) at a time, but just couldn’t manage to emerge from the fog of grief long enough to make consistent progress. The need to write was there, but it lay half buried in the past, a past both near to the present and spread out over my mom’s near century long life that I knew as if it was my own from her stories. For a time, though I remembered, it felt lost to me, just out of reach, elusive yet tantalizingly near to my heart. 

Some clichés are oft repeated because they hold wisdom and truth. Time does heal wounds, even those so deep that they sear a scar across our personal landscape. Slash and burn, new growth, fresh and tender, eventual layers of the past buried like treasure beneath the feet that tread the surface. It takes time for those left behind by the death of a loved one to be able to probe the depths of memory to mine the comfort to be found there. For a writer those depths call out to be probed and touched and cherished, even before the ability to do so appears.

The key to my return to the writing life came with the spontaneity of being able to pick up a tablet, turn it on, and be writing as the impulse hit. There was an immediacy that’s  just unobtainable with the bootup process of my laptop. The wait to begin writing was killing the impulse, making it a chore instead of the usual pleasure writing is for me. 

The result of my decision to write on my tablet was a streak that began the process of bringing me back to myself, from a loss that started over the long years of struggle to get my mom and myself through the end of her life. Alzheimer’s is a relentless foe. It pillages, plunders, burns lives to the proverbial ground, and leaves a path of profound loss in its wake. Losing my mother as I’d known and adored her for my entire life, long before I lost those last treasured hugs, was the most life emptying loss I’d ever experienced. No wonder I had trouble writing.

Once I began experimenting with my tablet, I found myself writing every day. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes it was two sentences, but that was two sentences I didn’t have the day before. Often it was much more. A laptop chunk stitched together from many struggling attempts laid the groundwork. Once I started on my tablet, I wrote daily from April 10th to July 4th to finish it as a novella. When I typed the final words, I decided to pretend for a moment that all the fireworks were for my own personal celebration of the return of not only my creativity, but also the discipline that serves as the backbone of finished projects.

Of course I haven’t stopped missing my mom. That will never happen. But I have stopped missing the routine of my writing life. A step back toward normality, accompanied by the pleasure that comes from weaving words together, into a cloth of wonder and worlds and dreams.

As the year winds down, I wrestle with a science fiction short story I started writing on a whim. Two words popped into my head, and I thought it would be fun to write a spontaneous story around them. It was fun at first. Then it became somewhat interesting. At that point I started losing interest and sort of tried to ignore it. Note to self:  Ignoring a story is like the proverbial red cape fluttering anywhere in a bull’s field of vision. Said story immediately paws the ground, raises a cloud of impossible to ignore dust…and charges.

I tend to think of my writer’s brain as an autonomous corner of my regular, everyday brain. The autonomous corner awakens from a half alert doze upon the slightest provocation, shoves the sprawling ponderings of movies, music, and the latest irresistible ice cream flavor back into their proper places. It then proceeds to go about its devious plotting. 

At the moment it’s still plotting away. Those two words that inspired what I thought would be a simple story have tangented themselves into a complex existential exploration of the nature of humanity, and what similarities and differences may lie along the bridge between naturally born people, those grown in an artificial environment, and entirely artificial intelligence.

Sometimes, when I look as if I’m doing nothing connected with writing at all, I’m actually working on something complex that takes time and thought and staring into space. Good thing I have that autonomous brain corner to do the heavy lifting, while the rest of me is busy with holiday stuff.

Hopefully, it’ll be ready to be finished soon. Having it make the leap from brain to fingertips to computer screen would be a great way to start the new year.