I’ve been writing a new novel lately, hopefully one I’ll get some blog posts out of at some point. But the thing is it reflects a lot on death…and I guess that’s just made me reflect a lot on it too, but also on related issues, like grieving and moving on.
My dog died recently. I initially wasn’t going to mention this, but I feel like it’s relevant. The creature I’d loved for thirteen good long years was suddenly gone, and I’m still at a loss sometimes to explain what I feel. And it’s been tough. In many ways this school year has very much seemed to be one filled with loss, loss I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with as hopelessly as most others who’ve come before me. His death hit me harder than I’d expected, though in loving him for so long, I’m not sure why I’d expect to be so unaffected.
But this was not the only loss I’ve suffered recently. A few months ago I laid to rest one of my favorite novel series I’d been working on, the one that included the first four novels I’d ever written, the one I’d been working on for probably five or six years now. It was unfortunately co-authored, and the other writer wanted to move on to more “mature” things, newer things, fresher things… I suppose in life we change and our writing changes with us. And for a time I thought I was ok with that, thinking moving on to new things wouldn’t be too hard.
I muddled along on my own, then gradually just realized it wasn’t working anymore. Maybe it was like the passion was cut in two without her. Or maybe I simply grew up too, and in time I began to realize there comes a time we grow too old and have to put aside things of the past. Sometimes I feel like the children in Narnia being told they’ve outgrown their beloved kingdom. And regardless, after she left, my characters, my world, my novels seemed to whither and die away. And for a time it seemed like part of me died with them. Maybe it did.
I poured the better part of my young adult life into those books. I had those characters at my sides as I dealt with those awkward teen years, when I cried about not having a date to prom, when I felt alone, when my parents just didn’t understand. They were some kind of a therapy and comfort as I dealt with anxiety, depression, confusion about life and boys and angsty teenage problems.
I buried them all in a swift flash of fury, smacked my hands onto the keyboard to create a little half-sheet apocalypse of my magical world that undid all I’d created. ” The chaos of untold proportion took over, the already potent disease spreading insanity in its wake. ” To give some idea of what happened. Sometimes that’s just how things are for me. A flash of rage and before I realize it I’ve destroyed what I love. Funny how anger is one of those stages of grieving when it seems so utterly different from sorrow.
It has been a few months now. But still sometimes it feels like fire has swept the fields of my imagination. Life is attempting to poke through bits of scorched earth, but it doesn’t have the same strength that it once did. It feels feeble, crippled. My characters feel like half-life’s, something not quite fully created. They speak perhaps a touch on the page, but I do not love them as I used to love. They feel like mere creations rather than friends. I do not sense them with me in those moments I need bravery or inspiration or a little more strength to make it one more day. And sometimes I fear it will be forever, that I will now forever have this sense of loneliness no author should, that I will never again be able to create with the same youthful passion and vibrancy I once did.
But that is the way life works. We grow up. We move on. Things of the past become less important. Goals and ideals and values shift and change like the ever moving tides. People and animals and characters we care about die, leave us, forget about us, move on. There is no control over these. They are simply patterns of life that dictate how we live.
Still, I’ve recognized by now that I’m in mourning, both for my beloved dog, for these stories I once loved, for the parts of myself I that may not be relevant anymore, for the things I’ve lost this year.
Somehow, someway, we move on. Past grief, past pain, past anger. It’s never easy. These feelings may never completely go away. But we find new people to love, we get new pets to share our time with, we write new stories either on the page or in life. Mourning can’t be underestimated. But it is crippling at times. And I only hope I’ll continue to heal, to grow, to move past these darker times towards brighter ones ahead, hopefully filled with better and fresher writing.
This year, more than any other before, I’ve considered throwing in the towel on my life-long dream of writing. I’ve considered giving it up and moving on to new things. For now, this remains something I cling to in spite of the troubles I’ve had. But who knows? Maybe some day writing will leave me too. Nothing is certain I suppose. The sun sets each and every day, sorrows happen, we simply have to hope it will rise again, and that good things too will come once more.
How do you grieve? What things or people or other elements of life have you mourned? What have been the best ways you’ve moved past hard life events? Anyone feel like writing a therapeutic response blog, if so please do.
PS: If I seem pathetic whining over a dog and some writing I no longer have, I apologize. My intention is not to make my spoiled life sound ridiculously hard, but rather to interconnect the human experience of loss and moving on, something I hope others can relate to as well in whatever means they can.