Insecure Writer's Support Group : Writing During a Tragedy
Posted on May 6, 2014
The past several weeks have been, to say the least, an emotional roller coaster. I was stuck in a rut for at least a month, unable to write a single word of fiction, or work on finishing the 2nd revision of my WIP, or market or promote anything.

It was rough. Death is rough. It makes you question things, like : why am I spending so many hours working on a silly little novel? People are dying! I need to do something productive, something that will change the world, save lives, and have an affect on people damn it!

Self-loathing. Survivors guilt. Silence.

But it wasn't a complete black out. I did write an entry commemorating my mother-in-law's passing, and another post inspired by my husband's self-inflicted guilt that is common when a loved-one dies.  Dulce is Home and Remember Me were both written from deep inside my gut, through streams of tears, and during a long stretch of sleepless nights. I posted them on Google+ in a few spots where I know the community members would welcome the entries, though one community admin actually removed my link because I didn't follow their poetry posting guidelines.

Whatever. It didn't matter. I was just looking for... I don't know...comfort? serenity? assurance that it was okay to write in the face of tragedy? that it was okay to put your emotions, your visions, your hopes down into poetry form to help you get by? Who knows why I wrote those two poems. I just did.

I didn't shared those two pieces with my husband because I didn't want him to see I was writing while he was still suffering. Half of me was relieved to write my thoughts down, but the other half was ashamed that I was moving on. I had to keep it from him until he was ready, until it was okay to go back to a sense of normalcy.

Then, one night, I went to sleep at four in the morning and forgot to close the browser on my laptop. Later that morning, my husband spotted the blogger admin page up on the screen. His curiosity got the better of him. He read the two entries and went back to bed where I was still asleep. He immediately woke me up.

With a tear streaming down his cheek, he thanked me for writing Dulce is Home and said it was beautiful. He was able to see his mom the way I described it in the piece. He envisioned his mother running uphill, the way she used to when he was younger, when SHE was younger, and imagined her smiling and laughing with his grandmother. It was the first time he thought of her in a way other than how he last saw her : lifeless, frozen, and in a coffin. Or before that : wheelchair-bound, sick, with half of her body out of her control.

In Remember Me, though I wrote it as my own message, my husband took the sentiment to be that of his mother's. She wouldn't have wanted him to remember her suffering. She would have wanted him to remember her happier days, when she was strong and healthy and full of life.

Because of these two tiny, itty-bitty, little pieces of poetry, my husband was able to imagine his mother happy again. He was able to look at her old photos and wallow in the sweet memories instead of letting the pain of her death cripple him.

Of course he still mourns her, but he's smiling again, telling us stories and laughing. Something had revived in him. He was on the road to recovery.

So, is it okay to write during a tragedy? I don't know. It depends. Maybe yes. Maybe no. As with most things having to do with death, there is no right way to behave. There is no correct way to act. Everyone reacts differently. We just have to be true to ourselves. But, if the muses reach out to you and help you put your river of pain into a piece of work, don't be ashamed of it. Accept it and be thankful the muses are there to guide you through the murky waters.

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Hope you enjoyed this month's IWSG entry. Make sure to link to other guest posts from other awesome writers at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website.


  1. I think it is okay to do whatever you need to do and helps you manage the grief of a loss. Creative outlets are the best, I have been told many times and I've done it myself. I'm glad your poetry helped your husband to smile again, even through tears.

    1. I was surprised to learn that not everyone believes this way. You try to be sensitive to everyone during times like these, and sometimes it's hard being true to yourself when you do so. Thank you for commenting. It helps to hear from other writers that they feel the same.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your MIL, Tanya. Very moving.

  3. Great tribute and great way of honoring her, I think. Debatable to think so? Sure, but if creativity and more writing is what you need to cope with her loss, why not? Each one of us mourn differently. Hugs to you and your husband.

    1. Thank you S.K Anthony. Your hugs are appreciated.

  4. Unless something is heartfelt how can we write about it with the respect and sensitivity it deserves? Life is precious. Life is learning. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

    1. It certainly is! We are mortal, and life will eventually end for all of us. I guess this is my small way of making her life a little more eternal. Thank you for commenting emaginette.

  5. I agree that there isn't a right way to act, but it's wonderful that your poems brought some peace to your husband.

    My condolences to you and your family.

    1. Thank you Misha. It was really touching when my husband told me he thought the poem was wonderful. It was the least I could do for him.

  6. This is a great post. What a wonderful thing you did for your husband.

    Thanks for your support.


  7. This really touched me...and after you read my Deja Vu post you'll know why.'s okay to write in the midst of such tragedy. In fact, sometimes it is a moral imperative.

    Thank you for choosing this piece to showcase during Deja Vu. I REALLY enjoyed it! :)

  8. It was a blessing that you chose to write during tragedy and how wonderful that it was the catalyst that turned your husband's grief around and onto its next phase! They say where there is pain, there is also the prize, the gem, the jewel. Looks like you've found that! Thank you for sharing this as your repost. It's making me more confident to get vulnerable. And as most of us are painfully aware, getting vulnerable is downright scary! Happy Deja Vu weekend. :)
    michele at Angels Bark

  9. Hi Tanya - sounds like your writing really hit the right note for you both - death is so difficult - seeing the positive is a challenge ... I've seen the positive of the experience, but now you've shown me that fully remembering my mother's past and her happiness is an added dimension I need to bring out ... thanks for this - cheers Hilary


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