26 October 2019
The first three months were like walking through a stage play, where everyone had a script but me. I was haunted by the way he had died and my helplessness to make much of a difference. Guilt can be tied to helplessness in a strange and not exactly rational way. I was alive, where he wasn't given the chance. And I didn't appreciate it, this life. I felt guilty for that.
My two grown-up daughters kept me going during this time.
About month four, I had a strange feeling. I'd been through this before. Not the exact situation. But the quite similar emotion of things being out of control, overwhelming, too much to handle.
When I was a young girl, my sweet little brother was sick. Or so we called it. Later, they gave it the label of autism. Our house was one of sadness, and at times, fear. I sought ways to escape. And the very best way, I found, was through creating stories.
The characters in my stories did what I said. I gave them wonderful adventures. But at the end of the day, they were under my control. That was it - pure, unfettered control, where in my own life, I had none.
As a kid, I started writing as a way to cope with an unstable home life. Could things be any more unstable than they were now?
I had no idea what to do with the rest of my life. No idea where to live. And with that, intense loneliness that had settled deep in my bones.
SALVATION: deliverance from harm, ruin or loss.
Writing - back then as now - has been my salvation. But not perhaps in the way that most people think. It's not that my prose allows me to reflect and write about my feelings as some form of therapy (although this does work in wondrous ways for some people.) Instead, it does the opposite. It takes me out of myself.
On those days where there doesn't seem to be much point to sticking around, this calling pokes at me. Get writing, it says. Write for other people - not yourself. Don't yield to the temptation to make this about you. Enough about you. Write for them.
I write humorous heists, epic fantasy and romantic comedy. Many of my books have been used in the ESL and literacy market, here and overseas. It took a long time, several months, for me to pull out of my grief to remember that. But the memories are starting to come back. In the back of my mind, a voice pokes through. That of a large man in his mid-thirties at a literacy event, saying to me, "If you hadn't written the Goddaughter books, I wouldn't be able to read now."
I'm making this year about him. Enough about me.
What about you, fellow writers and Sleuthsayers? Is writing crucial to maintaining sanity in difficult times?
No BSP this time. May we all touch someone with our writing.