On the Craft

“Writing is very much like watching a Polaroid develop.  You can’t – and in fact you’re not supposed to – know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”  -Anne Lamott

Harper Lee said: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

To borrow from her words, and with no pretense that I am improving upon them, I will amend that to say: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved writing.”

Or maybe: “Until I lost my babies, I never feared pregnancy.”  (As a not-unrelated side note, Harper Lee’s given first name was Nelle.  And she passed away just six days after Iris was born)

My first statement is not entirely true.  I did love writing once.  But that love evaporated in the practicality of being married young, working, and raising children.  Maybe it was more like holding my breath.  Now in the ugly aftermath that is Babyloss, I have found it to be as essential as breathing.

Yesterday, I asked my husband if he had been reading what I have been writing. His response was “some” followed by “Do you think you are being too open?”

I think he said it out of genuine concern for me, worried that I will over-share and say something that I later wish that I had kept to myself.  Or worried about what other people will think of me, being invited into the unforgiving world of grief, and likely thinking that I am something of a mess.

But my response to him was decisive:  Whether I am being “too open” or not, I’m not going to stop writing.  It is an additional form of therapy for me.  I need those deep breaths right now and upon each exhale, words pour out.  I haven’t given a lot of consideration to what other people think, because it is for me.  My way of coping.

I also will not shy away from saying that I think the anti-depressants have made this writing process easier.  When I started writing about grief back in September, I was often overcome with sadness and tears, to the point where I could barely keep my hands on the keyboard, or would need to take long moments to catch my breath.  Now I can be more clear in my thoughts.  At the same time, I worry about what that world looks like without the inflated sense of even-keel that the medication provides.

What does my writing look like without daily prompts about grief?  Do I go back to recounting the day-to-day events of our lives?  That was my original purpose, so that years from now I could remember what my life was like with small children.  All of this before I felt like I had any particular “story” to tell. Now I have a story, but I desperately wish I didn’t. I would give anything if my blog could have continued with the mundane descriptions of our lives, uninterrupted by grief.

I feel that I will need to grow myself, expand from grief writing.  I will go back to the previous daily musings, yes, but also feel that I cannot simply abandon talking about grief when it has become such an intertwined part of my life.  I have been slowly gathering a collection of my own prompts to use when the 30 days of grief writing is complete.  I don’t yet know what that looks like; We shall see where it leads.

After being awake at 3:00 a.m. when the prompt came in and forming a few paragraphs in the middle of the night, I fell into one of the deepest sleeps I have had in weeks.  I had a dream where I was attending a large gathering of people.  Someone mentioned a children’s book, to which I responded “Oh!  I have an extra copy of that book!  Let me get it for you.”  I went into the house and began to search.  I could not find the book on my shelf, but then realized I was in the wrong room.  For a moment, I panicked, because I could not remember where my own sons’ bedroom was located.  But then the layout of the house materialized in my head and I went to their shelf.  I still could not locate that book.  I began to tear the house apart looking but I never located it.  The story I was looking for could not be found.  Or perhaps it never existed.

Writing is easy.  Thinking is hard. Thinking requires planning and that is painful at the moment.  Writing happens often without thinking about it too much, or planning – simply sitting down with whatever is in my head at the moment.  Go.