Saturday, June 25, 2011

Writing Past Grief: Punching Through

It's been 9 months.

My son had cystic fibrosis and he passed away 9 months ago. This is the first time I've even lightly posted about it. It's still much too raw and painful. He was 14.

I understand grief, understand the 7 steps of mourning and the myriad of emotions that crashes through you. What I didn't realize was how that would affect my writing.

I had no idea grief would sabotage my writing confidence.

Everything I've worked so hard for over decades years is shattered. Poof. Gone.

No one wants to read this.

Your characters are too sad.

I thought you knew how to string together a sentence.

No wonder your agent can't sell your work.

You don't deserve to succeed.

Give up. You don't have the energy for this.

I feel like screaming at those inner voices as George Hamiliton did in Love at First Bite "Children of the Night…Shut up!"

So, my new mantra: I'm not a quitter, not a quitter, not a quitter.

I sit down and just start writing, giving myself permission to write badly, if I should punch through and get it done and something surprising happens.

My normal teenage heroine all of a sudden has a sibling who died in her back story and she is screaming at her love interest about how he doesn't understand…what tragedy has he ever experienced in his life that gives him the right to tell her how to feel?

I bang my head against the table. Is this all I can produce now? Angsty grief-driven characters? I just want to write stories, not go through therapy while doing it.

Then again, maybe that's all there is left. Pushing through. I'll let the characters grieve, let them flow however they will and maybe I'll come through the end of it with a little healing on my own. Who can say? I'll let you know how it goes as I continue these posts on writing past grief.


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10 comments:

Little Lovables said...

Clover, I certainly think any angst and sorrow you inflict on your characters is truly deserved and the raw layer of emotion can still turn out to be beautiful.

Your character screaming to her boyfriend about his lack of understanding on real issues, I have had those felings too, when dealing with a person whining over the flu as if it was the most horrible thing ever and my dad had just died an agonizing death the week before.

It's real, it's raw, and it touches everyone, or will eventually. I do pray you have peace and can get back into a somewhat 'normal' swing of things. :)

~Lisa

Kathee said...

Maybe you should go with what you want to write. I'm not a writer but those in grief have much to say that can be a buoy to those in grief that don't write.
Grief is so individualized too.
Big hugs to you and keep on keepin on!

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks Lisa and Kathee. I can't not write and if this is what comes out...who knows where it will take the characters, ya know.

Faith said...

Nothing wrong with angsty grief-driven characters, especially in YA. Keep writing, and you will punch through it, I know. Love you!!!!

Anne said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. The seven steps of grief are certainly a logical, clinical look at something that defines people permanently in innumerable ways.
Writers put themselves into their stories. I don't believe any of the characters is separate from a writer. You have an authentic voice and it would reflect your thoughts at any given time. If your thoughts center around your loss, there is no reason that the characters should be false, and be oblivious to the idea. Perhaps they will work on healing themselves...and you too eventually.
I think, from someone who reads too, a true voice is what many respond to. Whether it comes from happiness or grief.
I pray that you have calm and peace.

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks Anne and Faith. Faith, you are truly a great friend.
Anne, what you said makes a lot of sense.

About Me said...

The loss of your child has moved me deeply.

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks Matt. Same for you.

Brenda Drake said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Clover. I can't imagine how it feels, though I came close to losing my own son from cancer. We were lucky he survived. All I can offer is encouragement to write and let your writing take you through your grieving. The pain will never go away, it will only move to the background, allowing other emotions to come to the foreground of your writing. I send you hugs. <3

Clover Autrey said...

Thank you Brenda. Cancer is so difficult. We met a lot of families going through that on our many stays at the hospital.