Wrenching Grief

Tears have filled the well of my heart and spilled over.

I’ve been trying to be upbeat and funny in my blogs over the years. Though my Your Book, Your Business series gets down and rough some of the time, I want people to look at and find the positive side of writing amidst the negative that’s all too easy to see and hear.  Today is different.

Today, I’m grieving.

Perhaps, if this wasn’t an assignment, I’d not write this. I may have, though. I know as well as anyone how writing is cathartic. However, it’s been seven years. Seven. An emotional seven years full of trench deep lows and Oort Belt highs. An intense seven years have passed as of Monday, April 25, since a freak accident took my twenty five year old brother. He was the glue that held me to my adopted family, the one I could be open with, who accepted me as I was. He made a point of seeing me before leaving on that fateful move to Georgia, even though I lived like four hours out of his way.

Our children, my youngest, his oldest (and turns out only) child were born a mere three weeks apart, his a beautiful girl, mine a beautiful boy. His wife and child put the most tender look on his face that I’d ever seen on him. They were his whole world, and he was taking them on an adventure to better their lives.

Those precious moments meant more to me than he could possibly fully comprehend. When you’re left out and left behind, when assumptions are made that are impossible to know where to begin to defend because they’d been made for years without your knowing, most not based in truth, or with a twisted version impossible to unravel, you begin to expect the worst. Your heart becomes like an Arthurian stone holding on to the sword, never letting loose.

But he always took his own path; he loved and laughed on his terms. Grief, after years of being manageable, has struck like a mac track hitting a wall, leaving bricks and mortar of your soul scattered across the black floor, shards to trip you up and make you bleed.

Dark, harsh, relentless grief has no time limit. It will wilt your insides, churn them up like butter then spit them out in a configuration of salty wetness or verbal bile. Burning like blue fire, hot and cold, it tears you apart; the inferno either swallows you into vast nothingness, no longer having even mass, or it forges you.

I’m not a stranger to pain, to grief. From child hood abusers, project kids who bit and kicked and worse to being an adult ho finally understands the stigma associated with those abuses, and a spouse who beats you, therein lies pain.

Having a son go into respiratory arrest multiple times will tear you into shreds of panic, flaying your heart and throwing the pieces into your throat so that even air causes pain. That scary moment, while driving, you have to reach back, grab a handful of his shirt with the carseat straps, and essentially punch your son in the chest because he’s quit breathing and you have no one to help. Your one friend isn’t around, and your other is waiting for your other child as you frantically drive from a dinky town to a small one with a small hospital. That moment will NEVER leave your mind, haunting you as if it were yesterday at the oddest moment.

I’m used to going at it alone. So used to it, that I forget–or chose not–to cry for help. My heart turned into icicles during that time of my life, and I learned to keep things compartmentalized, and it took a lot to let people in. God help them if they betray me. It all bottled up over time, and I became a crier. I haven’t lost that part, but I am learning to not bottle it all up.

When my daughter had brain surgery, I learned the benefits of social media. My FB family proved I’d grown, opened up, if only to crack open the door, and social media became a more ritualistic outlet for me.

So today, I’m blogging this.

I’m using what I learned before to help me now as grief clutches my heart with razor sharp claws to pierce me with the shadows of sorrow. I’ll write until the sun breaks through and gives new life to reverberate within my soul, like crocuses breaking through the hard wintery ground.

I will do more than survive. I will become. Become someone I love more, someone who can lead others to the light, to see that grief isn’t an end, to help them learn to reach out and love so that they too can become.

Today, I will kiss my son and laugh with all my children, enjoying my blessings and thankful for the love shown me by my kid brother and pass it on.







The Danger of Too Many Ideas

Have you ever been so full of ideas, you had to pare things down to just one or two to write about? Or, have you ever been, oh, I don’t know, say, in the shower, in bed, anywhere where getting ahold of a writing utensil or laptop or iPhone or anything is impossible. Not such a bad thing. I mean, as a writer, too many ideas is great! We have a plethora of things to cherry pick like professional connoisseurs with the best of the best laid before us.

But no, it isn’t so. I present to you the idea *pun intended* that it is not only possible to have too many ideas, but dangerous. How is that, you may ask. First, let me say, I could hear the groans from far and wide, from across the globe, as writers everywhere remembered all the times the ideas came…and left, as surely as the water sloughed off them and down the drain, impossible to recall, or to recall in their glory. Pieces of the idea may hang around, like water dripping from hair to annoy instead of clean, refresh, invigorate as originally intended. We will address that aspect later. The point here is, did you not become stuck trying to remember that fantastic idea you had, the one that would strike blind the gate keepers of the big six, leave the author of fifty shades of what crying in her beer as you took over the number one spots ever? Did you not despair, weeping on the shoulders of your writing companions at the cool-of-cool idea that is lost, perhaps even hold a memorial–oh wait, you can’t because…well, because you can’t remember!

So now, instead of slaving away, putting forth words, words toward your future, whether a blog, the next paragraph, the outline of your next book (if you’re a plotter…) or brainstorming, you have writer’s block, and you’re lamenting your loss. The mourning takes hours, or days if it really was the stellar idea bright enough to start its own solar system. Okay, perhaps we’re getting a bit melodramatic, but are we not writers? Do we not write? Do we not cry when the writings don’t happen? Do we not bleed if we have to cut our word babies when editors spring forth their words of wisdom and that red pen? Fine, it’s a track changes button and typed words, but it can be red…

Then there’s the other side of the scenario. (I can see all the writers now, slowly pulling the blanket over their head, staring at the screen between the fingers as their avid imagination springs forth with where I must be going.) You have all these ideas, and they do not, I repeat, not, leave you alone. You’re another person by day. Mother, retail, or maybe, you get to write all day. Whatever it is you do, this bouquet of ideas keeps wafting their scents across the way, their sweet, sometimes spicy  aroma tantalizing your senses, turning your mind like the headiest of French perfume.

Your eyes glaze over, your breathing quickens, your heart beats faster, fanning the flames of lust cooking those bouquets until their scents permeates every corner of what you’re doing. Yep, it happened. You fell in love with another idea. As it cooks, percolates, it seduces your writer’s soul, the creative bit that wants to keep building and building, and you neglect the foundations. You neglect to lay out the rebar, to choose the flooring, plan the stairs, make sure all rabbets are in place. These ideas, while enticing, get in the way of editing, marketing, contract reading…all those pesky non-creative parts of being a writer. The parts of the love life that is more than feeling good, of flash pheromones and surface looks, the real work, the commitment to follow through, choosing cover art, filling out forms. The finding a marketer or learning how to do it yourself, even if you are with the big six.

The danger is the seduction of the new shiny without finishing up with the tarnished armor you put on your story in the beginning and polishing it up ready for jousting with its peers on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, without adding the herbs and spices to the full meal. Instead, it is left to languish in the large fields of garbage as it wallows in comma splices and run ons, woefully full of passive voice and exposition. The new shiny starts out fresh, clean, perfect, but soon, it too will lose that heroic bearing, that fresh scent of a five course meal, and become the next broken armor.

Dangerous. Too many ideas are dangerous and become mixed metaphors of life–if you even remember them. If an idea is plaguing you when others are up on the chopping block of edits, then give it a little attention, write down the gist you need to remember it later, and save it in a special folder. Then leave them alone. Develop tonight’s meal so you can be the hero of the kitchen like a proper chef. When it is finished, then prepare for tomorrow’s meal as we all want to continue to eat, build your next spaceship, practice your sword moves in preparation for the next joust…and any other metaphor that fits the genre you’re writing in!

As for the ideas in an impossible-to-write-down-situation, I suggest you marry an inventor who creates the writer’s shower recorder so you can speak a magic word, and it will record your very idea with the I’m-in-bed-and-almost-asleep mind reader option. Or if you can’t marry the inventor, sell your soul?

In the meantime, may that sweet spot of plenty of ideas at appropriate times follow you all the days of your career.