Sunday, May 16, 2010

When "Life Happens"

Life happens. The real world presses in on our writing work all the time. Sometimes the pressure is low. Other times, one feels as if trapped in a diver's shark cage under the sea, oxygen is low, oh, and by the way, there's a shark. Oh, and another thing, cage door lock is broken.

This week was a lot like being in that diver's cage.

Darling Father-in-Law passed away on Wednesday morning. Not unexpected. Not wanted, either. But there it is: the end of a man's life. One who never demanded anything of us, one who I loved, and one who is missed.

And surrounding the loss of a loved one are all the people, the personalities, the old pains, the unresolved issues, the layers of good and bad, the stages of grief being played out by all in varying orders. One becomes angry, the other sad, the other practical, the other helpful, the other in denial, the other accepting. And so it goes. Will go on for about a year depending on the person and the personality.

Me, I guess I already grieved a lot prior to the loss. I have accepted it. I suppose my anger stage is being used to fight the VA for my FIL's deserved benefits. Good use of it, I say. I guess that covers the practical, helpful stage of grief, too. But I know at various times this year, and in the ongoing years, I'll mourn a little again. It's normal to miss someone we loved long after we have sad our goodbyes.

But despite all the "life happening" moments this past week, I managed to write. Not as much as I would have liked, but more than expected. The writing helped me go through the whole denial thing again. being lost in my world of people and their personalities shielded me from some of the pain of losing my FIL. I challenged my feelings into my writing, and it helped.

But when the phone rang, I didn't ignore it. When my darling daughter heard the news and burst into tears, I held her in my arms till her tears subsided. I called, too. My darling hubby needed encouragement and love. My FIL's sister and his widow needed emotional support. I did, too. I also gave myself a day to do nothing other than clean the house from top to bottom. Cathartic. I tend to get practical when life happens: cleaning, ironing, organizing, busying.

I've learned that we grieve the way we live: our personalities and how we cope with life also dictates in a great way how we will cope with death.

I'm a doer, a practical sort with a desire to get things done. So I got busy.

I wrote, I story boarded, I moderated an online workshop, I tussled with my synopsis, and I prepped my MAGGIE entry for review this week. I didn't have an editor breathing down my neck who expected me to turn in my revisions by Friday. But I wrote because I gave myself a deadline, albeit self-imposed, and I will meet it.

I treat my job as a profession. And writers must work harder, even if published, to maintain that attitude. Other than my OWN death or serious illness, there are NO excuses. I must complete the task I set for myself by the intended deadline to maintain the self-discipline I need to become a successful published author. This isn't a hobby I can set aside. This is my career.

How do you treat your writing, if unpublished, when "life happens?"


KarenG said...

And I thought my weekend was an emotional roller coaster! Weddings & funerals make us stop and pay attention. I use these kinds of events (life happening) to stoke my creative fires, and at least capture the moments in my journal if there's no time for anything else.

Piedmont Writer said...

I'm so sorry about you FIL. However I can see you are a very strong woman and handled everything that was thrown at you with grace and kindness. I'm also glad you got to clean the house (VERY cathartic) And to write. That's admirable, and you're right, this is a job, and sometimes writing just helps us to clear our head and help keep our emotions in check when big news like this hits.

Christine said...

Hi Karen: congratulations again on your daughter's wedding and marriage. I also like to capture the moments of life in my journal as a way to stoke my creative juices. Yes, it has been a roller coaster and the ride's not over. I've decided that the older I get, there is always going to be "something" going on--good or bad. I better be able to write regardless of that "something" going on.

Christine said...

Piedmont Writer: I love what you said about how the writing keeps emotions in check. That totally happened to me this past week. There was a moment when I had a strong reaction to one of the people's usual (and expected) negative machinations. Years ago, I might have allowed that reaction to spill over, but this time I could ignore it and focus all that energy into my writing. Whew, possible problem doused because problem didn't receive the attention it craved.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm so sorry about your FIL. You've handled this whole ordeal so well. I think sometimes when life throws us a curve, writing can be the escape it was always meant to be for us.

When life happens, I try to keep writing and stick to my self-imposed deadlines as well. It's one part of my life I have some control over.

Christine said...

Hi Gwen: Thanks for your support. Yes, I think that having control over the writing is another reason why I continue to do it during tough times.

Ellen Brickley said...

Christine, I'm sorry to hear about your FIL. He sounded like such a wonderful man and you were all blessed to know him.

It is good that you could keep your writing up at such a time - life helps us to write, but writing also helps us to cope with living.

Christine said...

Hi Ellen: thank you for you kind words. Writing is a way to cope with loss. I'm glad I have the outlet.

Wendy Marcus said...

Hi Christine!
You are truly an inspiration. I am so sorry about your father-in-law's passing. And I know from experience, even though you expected it, the finality when it actually happens is quite traumatic.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Christine said...

Thanks so much, Wendy. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. My village of virtual and real writing friends sustains me during all my ups and downs.

Playground Monitor said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. Grief is a powerful emotion and one must go THROUGH the five stages -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance -- not around in order to come out whole on the other side. The end of my marriage has been a grief-filled experience and I've been dealing with all these stages. It's great you have such support at a time like this.


Christine said...

Dear PM--you're absolutely right about having to go through all the stages. And many times throughout this year, I'm sure we'll revisit them as things come up.

I think you're a remarkably strong woman and in time all your grief and sadness will give way to a new joy and recommitment to your writing.