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Here’s a reblog of something I posted in 2011 about writer fear. Thought it might be useful to hear what happens inside my head in that moment.
I have no clue why it took me so long to see The Descendants.
I absolutely loved how much setting the film used. Huge beach vistas and busy city streets in Hawaii. Totally grounded me in the story.
The story is about a workaholic father who is the backup parent until his wife has a boating accident. Right after he is told she won’t wake up from her coma and her living will kicks in, he finds out about his wife’s infidelity. Touching, heart-warming, realistic, tragic, humorous, and conflicted don’t begin to describe it.
I have never seen actors act so flawlessly you forgot you were watching a movie and you were sucked right into their world. You believed this was happening. And you took the entire emotional journey with this family.
George Clooney and Shailene Woodley are beyond gifted. There is this scene where she breaks down in the pool–wow. Just wow.
It earned every accolade it achieved in this New York Times Review.
I’m going to have to add the book to my reading list.
Alice Sebold crafts a gut-ripping tale of loss, grief, recovery, and the afterlife in The Lovely Bones.
It was on my list of movies to watch, but I never got around to it. Being a firm believer that books are always better than the movies, I decided to read her story instead.
WOW. It’s one of my top 10 books. Immaculate writing, master-like use of multiple point of view, soul-stirring cadence, and a haunting tale that never leaves you. Even after you close the book and return it to the shelf.
There are at least two hundred thousand perfectly crafted sentences in this book. Like “You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you. You’re not meant to.” and “The events that my death wrought were merely the bone of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future.”
She is an artist, sketching her characters with a few telling details. Each sentence wove an image into my mind. I was right there with the father feeling his loss so acutely it became mine for a moment.
Her concept of heaven sits reassuringly on top of earth. But the pain of seeing and not touching loved ones. Of watching but never being able to participate–it’s agonizing.
Suzie is a character you are immediately drawn to from the first sentence of the book.
“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”
Her family could be anyone’s family.
That’s one of the most powerful things about this book. It could happen to any one of us.
I finished the book humbled. Grateful to feel the weight of my bones and muscles. Able to interact with anyone. Being alive never felt so tangible.
If you haven’t read it or seen the movie yet, you can buy the book here on Amazon. And even if you did catch the movie, the book is exquisite. Read it.
It’s not an everyday thing. But some mornings, after I finish my breakfast, FB, emails. It comes.
The Fear. That today I won’t know where to begin my writing. That I’ll sit at the laptop frozen in terror. That my abilities won’t come. That I won’t be enough anymore.
It’s a freaky discombobulating sensation. An anchor dragging me down. While a frenzy of anxiety fireworks shoot off in my mind.
What if today is the day that I can’t do it anymore?
What if I don’t have any more ideas or enhancements to the manuscript?
What if I just can’t do it?
Blind searing panic. Rips open the door on self doubt. The naysayers in my own mind gnaw at me.
And then I force myself to sit down. To start the editing. Sometimes the gears are rusty, but my mind eventually finds the grooves.
And if I can’t edit, I story storm the next book. Type some bullet points for the outline that I haven’t drafted yet.
And if that doesn’t work, I write the blog.
Worst case, I send an oh-my-God-I’ll-never-write-again email to a friend.
Anything to get the writing juices flowing.
It’s been 5 years of writing stories. And this still happens. I think it’s just a part of the writing life.
The fear is always there. The coping mechanisms just get more refined and so what could paralyze you for a week can be condensed down to 15 minutes.
How do you cope with anxiety? The fear of writer’s block/losing your muse?
Emily Autumn has a great line in one of her poems:
How to break a heart
It is not difficult
Anyone can do it
So could you, if you tried
Just find a light
And switch it off
As easy as blinking
I never realized how easy it is. I mean I’ve had my heart broken a few times. Careless words thrown at me proved just how fragile love is. It shattered from a well-aimed needle or a stray bullet. I always marveled at the power of love and how it bound me to someone. Somehow, forgetting how delicate love could be, unraveling with one snip.
My character’s heart is going to break. I haven’t worked out exactly how. But having gone through it myself, I know it will tear her apart. But she will get through it.
I remember the first time my heart broke what hurt the most: Knowing it wouldn’t kill me. Instead, I would have to endure months of pain. Each day a bitter reminder that I was once again alone in the world, cut loose from the ties that bound me. The sun shined, the bird chirped and the rest of the world could give a rat’s ass about how I felt.
I hated that feeling, hated playing the waiting game. Most of all, I hated knowing that I brought it all upon myself because loving someone always opens you up to hurt. It’s the risk you take.
But I’ve also learned that all those feelings can be locked inside a big trunk and stored in some forgotten corner of your soul. Repressed away until you feel nothing.
In the end, life can be whatever you make of it. Broken hearts mend. Loss is overcome. And one day you smile after months of sadness. I can’t quite flip a switch and make it all go away, but I learned to wallow and then bury it. To mourn and then move on. I think that is perhaps the greatest tragedy in life: Knowing you can survive anything, but wishing you didn’t have to.
How did you deal with your first broken heart? Do you prefer to read about someone bouncing back or wallowing and slowly climbing out of it? Which makes a better heroine in your mind?