Wandering Into The Abyss... an IWSG Post
Posted on September 18, 2020


Two years ago, my life changed. My brother passed away and it shocked me. To my core. Long story short, I practically stopped writing fiction.

Mourning does that to people, I've learned. It keeps us from doing what we love to do. We can't help ourselves. I stopped writing, running, salsa dancing, drawing, playing sports, etc. 

After a few months, I started writing a ton of poetry. It was an outlet for all of my crazy emotions - sorrow, fear, hope, more sorrow. In April of 2019 I tried to combine National Poetry Month with Blogging from A-Z and created a few posts for each event on www.PetalsOnTheWind.com

It was a disaster. I can't believe I tried to capitalize on what was basically a coping mechanism. I thought the pressure of "having to write" would motivate me but it totally sabotaged the therapeutic effects of poetry writing. It was too much pressure. I contacted the administrator for A-Z to take me off the list and continued writing out my thoughts and feelings in poetry and prose whenever I felt the need.

After about 8 months, I started running and working out again, meeting with friends and families, going to parties. I volunteered to help teach computer science at my local high school thru Microsoft's TEALS program. I offered my clients to do some extra work for them. I was filling up all my time with non-writing activities. 

Writing was just not something I wanted to do. 

The thing with writing is...

The thing with writing is that you have to tap into your own personal emotions to write emotion, and my novels have all the feels. Whenever I tried to work on my novel, my mind would wander back to that horrible day and the week that followed. My parents breaking down. My kids watching me lose it. The calls to/from friends and family, the funeral, all of it.

It didn't help that the protagonist in my current work-in-progress lost her brother in the preceding novel in the series. So, basically it went like this: writing => thinking about protagonist's emotions =>  thinking about my own emotions => remembering that horrible day.

After a few minutes I would just close the laptop and do something that would take my mind away. I spent a lot of months handling my brother's estate (and learned a lot of lawyerly stuff) and I spent a lot of time with my parents, more time that I ever did before. Again, loads of non-writing activities, loads of distractions.  

Sometimes I would get through a page or so, maybe a small scene, a tremendous burst of energy would just pour out through my fingertips. But those were few and far between. Most of the time, my mind would wander... 

Then, COVID19 hit and suddenly everyone was stuck at home. No gym. No running. No visiting family and friends. The volunteer program was terminated. Even one of my clients, who owned a touring company in NYC, went out of business. No one was able to work.

The distractions were gone and free time was abundant. I can only watch so much Netflix... 

So, with nothing else to do, I tried to write again. It didn't work. I was still in that unforgiving cycle that eventually leads back to painful memories. I was stuck. How do I get my creativity going without going insane? I thought... no... I BELIEVED I had lost my mojo. 

So I gave up on writing and decided to use this down time to learn a new technology. I bought an online programming class on Udemy.com to learn React and Advanced Javascript and went through the entire course without issues. 

Then, something happened. 

The thing with programming is...

The thing with programming is that there is a ton of room for creativity. I love front end work, which means I like making things visually intuitive and efficient. In other words, I like making things look pretty and simple, so simple that whether you're 9 years old or 99 years old you can use it with no problems. There is something to say for simplicity. 

I went through the course and created the ecommerce site as instructed. Once I was done, I went back to the site I created and customized it, added more features, created my own images, changed the logo and the color schemes, and a slew of other customizations. I made it my own, and it was awesome. My creative juices were gushing.

Then, because of the pandemic, and my husband constantly complaining "There should be a chart about CDC data points over time...". BOOM! I created a COVID19 app for US States that charts CDC data for easier viewing and interpretation. 

Then, in a discord group there was a challenge to create an online game. BOOM! I created a simple memory game site with my own vector graphics and javascript animation. It looks simple but it took a lot of work to code - so that it can look simple. As I said earlier, there's something to say about simplicity.

All this creativity, lots of learning, and not once did my mind wander. Not once.

So, with a lot of hope and courage, I went back to my novel. I'm not sure if it was a time-heals-all-wounds phenomena or my newfound belief that I can still be creative without breaking down into tears, but I was able write fiction again. Now, I wander in the abyss only a little, and then pull myself out and go back to writing. 

And I can almost hear my brother whisper to me, "It's about freakin' time!".


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This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop.

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Check out some of my crazy poetry on


   
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And if you're into programming, check out my newfound chops on





4 comments:

  1. It's really common not to be able to write or even read much when you are going through the grieving process. When I lost my husband six years ago, I couldn't read for months and I've only recently got back into my writing. Glad you're starting to get back into yours, but don't pressure yourself.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. It can definitely be tough to make writing feel important again, after a death.

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  3. Listen to your brother, but do it for you. You got this! I'm Gwen, co-hosting for the IWSG this month. Welcome aboard! http://gwengardner.blogspot.com/

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss. Grief is devastating. I lost my brother 10 years ago, and I miss him. Then 9 months later, my father, and 2 years ago, my mother. Life is precious and extremely hard to cope with loss. I sort of understand what you are going through. It sounds like you are on the right track. Take Care.

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