Thursday, 16 December 2010

flick of a switch

I just made my first short story submission in 3 months - maybe the longest I've ever gone without entering some kind of competition or writing prize. My focus has been on my novel and a few other longer stories, so it feels amazing to have actually sent something away for consideration.

The end-of-year feeling looms, and it looms in a darker and more significant way as the anniversary of my Mum's death comes with it. This has been the hardest year of my life, and I can feel parts of me falling away, changing. I feel more protective of myself, strangely. In a short time I lost many of the things that held me together, and only recently am I realising that this new scaffolding is coming up around me. It's not like becoming hardened, I'm not that at all. But you do learn things when you go through something like this, about yourself and the people around you. Everyone deals with a bereaved person differently, and some won't deal with you at all. There have been some surprises; thankfully the good outweigh the bad.

I realised this year how much I turn to writing, and not just in the obvious way like writing how I'm feeling in my diary. If I've had a tough day, or I've been thinking over some hard or painful stuff, I'll consciously switch myself to 'writer' mode, and often it's as explicit as saying out loud: 'Okay - to writing now'. Or I'll write those words down after a journal entry, like I'm flicking a switch and going into another world.

It's not always about creating something, it can be about doing something practical, like researching places to sub to, or filing something, or sending some work out to an editor. It's probably to do with identity, and control, which I guess are two things I've been trying to keep hold of all year.


essygie said...

I'm currently losing my aunt (who helped raise me and is my second mum) to brain cancer. Like you, I find comfort in writing - I think you're right, it's about identity; writing is at the core of who we are and we need to hold onto that. It helps also to read your posts and realise I'm not the only one going through this, so thank you. :-)

Clowncar said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I too lost my Mom, a few months ago, and abruptly stopped writing, even blogging.

But I feel that "scaffolding" you describe slowing taking shape around me, in words and phrases, characters and settings.

So thanks, for that lovely scaffolding image.

Teresa Stenson said...

Essy - I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt. I can't imagine how it must be to know you are going to lose someone. My Mum died suddenly, and although I don't wish for a goodbye, it's the powerlessness of not being able to have helped her, which you must feel too but in a different way. Peace and strength to you, your aunt and her loved ones.

Hi Clowncar - I'm so sorry for your loss too. It's nice that the scaffolding has struck a chord with you, once you realise it's there it's helpful. I'm sure you're having good days and bad, riding all the emotions that come and go and come back again. Strength and peace to you too.

Miles said...

You always inspire me, Tree. Thinking of you this Xmas xxx

Teresa Stenson said...

Thank you Miles x Funny, I was feeling inspired by YOU the other day, so there. Was thinking how ace Zomblog is, how you guys just got on and did it and made something really chuffing good. Chuff.