Monday, August 1

The unappreciated gift

It's scary to me, this lack of interest I suddenly have in writing. I finished my WIP last week...or maybe the week before. I've been busy with promo--yuck--and with trying frantically to get involved in another story. But it's not working.

I have several beginnings I like. A proposal for a series has been with my publisher for at least ever if not longer. A sequel to Home to Singing Trees that is half done. A fix-up-and-release of Always Annie, my first book ever. The idea of editing and putting together my newspaper columns into a book.

Those things aren't working, either.

My mother-in-law died in February--I miss her so much. I left my long-time church a couple of months ago--I miss it and the people in it so much. Sciatica has kept me from walking on the trail--I miss it so much. These are the things, I think, that are keeping me from working.

Grief, in all of its forms and at all of its stages, is a heavy burden. It is a reason for being unable to latch onto being productive. I think the Wranglers have all talked about when we should "be over it," when there is no should to it--grief doesn't punch a time clock.

When I started this post, the first words I typed were "This is new to me, this lack of interest...", but then I changed it because it's not new. It happens most times when I finish a book--it's just more intense this time because of grief as an added component. And I even know why.

It's because--and I laugh and joke about this, ha ha, no matter how funny it isn't--there is something inside me that insists each book is my last. That I've used up my allotment of those turns of phrase I mentioned last week. And characters who are fun to know and laugh and cry with. And happily-ever-afters.

Did I say grief was an added component? How wrong that is, because I grieve with every book's ending because when it really has been my last book--and I don't know when that will be or has already been--that is a loss I can't bear to contemplate. Any more than I could bear losing my mother-in-law, or leaving my church, or accepting the physical limitations of what we euphemistically term a certain age.

But we do. We do bear it. And we cherish memories and go new places when the old ones no longer fill the wells of our souls and find new ways to feel better physically. So now, even if I have written my last book--which, no, I don't really think I have--I'm still going to write. If a new book doesn't come from it, something else will.

Years ago, I wrote an essay for Senior Women Web about grief and what a gift it was. I went back to read it. It is a gift. But sometimes it's hard to be thankful for it.

Have a great week.

Liz

30 comments:

  1. Well said, Liz. Grief is a bitter partner in life, but it does, indeed, have some blessing attached. Maybe we appreciate what we have left, and who we have left, a little more because we know we won't have them forever. Hang in there, sister--writing will come around again.

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  2. Sounds as if it's time to replenish your psyche, and sometimes doing nothing is when the well's level begins to rise. Condolences on your losses. I hope you see new beginnings soon.

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    1. I actually went out and walked this morning, sore hip and all, and it did unbelievable things for my soul! :-) Thanks, Ashantay.

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  3. Hi Liz, My condolences to you and your family. When I lost my mother in 2013, I grieved for what I thought was an abnormally long period. And my writing suffered as well. But there is a morning after...Take care!

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    1. My mother died in 1982 and I really didn't grieve much--life was too busy and it went on. That came back to bite me in the butt years later, and when my mother-in-law died, it was like losing them both at the same time. That doesn't make sense, even to me, but that was how it felt. I'm better, we all are, but I still think about her a lot. Thanks, Joanne.

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  4. I don't know if this will help, but I've learned to let go and rest at the end of a path. Especially in writing, but in other transitions also. Rest and mend. You will become something new and ready to start again. Maybe a new way or on a new path, but a beautiful new always comes. Expect it.

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    1. I think I need to do that, Colleen. I told Kristi the other day that I always read at the end of writing a book, and I'm doing that, too. I think this is just meant to be a hard hear.

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  5. Liz, I can so relate to your post. Everything mentioned seems unrelated but all falls under "loss." I'll add in the moving far away of a close family member. And the fairly-soon-to-be-moving-out high schooler. After the loss of my father almost nine years ago, our family went to see Art Garfunkel in an intimate concert setting, with that gentle voice many of us remember..

    Just yesterday I looked up the lyrics to a song that spoke to me.

    Art Garfunkel – I Remember You Lyrics
    Was it in Tahiti?
    Were we on the Nile?
    Long, long ago,
    Say an hour or so
    I recall that I saw your smile.

    I remember you,
    You're the one who made
    My dreams come true
    A few kisses ago.

    I remember you,
    You're the one who said
    "I love you, too," I do.
    Didn't you know?

    I remember, too,
    A distant bell,
    And stars that fell like rain
    Out of the blue.

    When my life is through,
    And the angels ask me to recall
    The thrill of them all,
    Then I shall tell them
    I remember you.
    Songwriters: MERCER, JOHNNY / SCHERTZINGER, VICTOR
    I Remember You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

    Please keep writing, Liz, even when it's hard and maybe only for you.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy. That song is just beautiful. We have it by Frank Ifield and Glen Campbell (which is haunting now that he's in the final stages of Alzheimer's).

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  6. Cathy, I love those lyrics!

    I don't have any great words of wisdom, Liz, but know your fellow Wranglers are standing right here with you...even if most of us are hundreds of miles away...

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    1. I doubt I'm the only one who feels this at the end of books, Kristi--especially those of us at that "certain age"--but I admit it's definitely harder this time. I do love knowing no Wrangler ever stands alone!

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  7. Sounds like it's been a rough year, Liz. But it's bound to get better. I don't really grieve at the end of a book, but I do feel a sense of loss. And I always clean my office. (Which doesn't get much cleaning the rest of the time!) I clear things off and put things away and contemplate a fresh start. It really seems to help me let go of the book and move on to the next one. As for life interfering with writing, I almost feel it's the opposite for me. When things are bad, writing is my refuge and escape. It helps heal me. When things are good and I'm happy and content, I don't write as much. Of course, I haven't faced a really serious loss in a long time, so I have been fortunate. Best wishes for a quick recovery and getting into the next book!

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    1. Thanks, Mary. I've been frankly amazed that I've been unable to "let go." We even laugh because something will happen and I'll tell Duane, "Okay, I'm blaming your mom for this one." I will say, good on you for cleaning your office. I should. Yes.

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  8. After my mom and mother in law passed within 3 months of each other, 7 years ago, it took me a long time till I could really think straight let alone write. My first book was released about that time and it took most of the joy out of that, but we plod on and eventually I started writing again. Best wishes to you and take whatever time you need to just breathe.

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    1. I think I'm tired of the plodding, Lucy, even though it's necessary. I'm also tired of my own complaining, so hopefully I'll find my way back sooner rather than later. I'm sorry for your too-close-together losses.

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  9. What a wonderful post, Liz. It hits so many marks I can identify with, I nodded the entire time I read. Sympathies to you for the loss of your mother-in-law and for the other losses you're 'living.' Healing/grieving takes time, as you say. But one morning you'll wake up with a new idea for one of your WIPs and you'll be going again. Hugs.

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  10. Hi, Liz. You do have lots on the table and there is no rush. Tinkering might help push you forward. Don't do it unless you want to. I take periodic breaks and usually come back better for it. Hugs.

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    1. Hi, Vicki. That's part of my problem, I think. I always feel like I need to rush, as if I'm going to be out of time by sundown. And maybe that will happen, but I think I need to quit living like it's going to.

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  11. Aging does seem to be too much about loss, whether it's favorite activities, physical abilities, or loved ones. I'm so sorry about your recent losses. I've just finished the first pass edits of my upcoming book, but since I'm self-publishing it, it will be a few months before I can say I' "finished" with it. I've never felt grief about finishing a book, because by the time I do I'm more than ready to move on to something new. (BTW - Return to Singing Trees was the first book of yours I read. Loved it!)

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    1. Thanks, Alison. It's one of the hard parts, isn't it? I'm not sure the grief is over the finishing as much as over the fear that it's the end of something bigger.

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  12. (((HUGS))) I have that "this is the last book I'll ever write" feeling with my current WIP, which is book 3 of a trilogy. Maybe that's why it's taking so long to finish. One by one, I've seen my interests and activities fall away. Don't really want to lose this one. :(

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    1. It's awful to admit, Cheryl, but I'm glad to not be alone with the feeling. My other interests have pretty much stayed, albeit changed by time, but this one is just to important to lose.

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  13. I'm sorry for your loss. It is so hard to lose a loved one. Thank you for such a meaningful post.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I can almost hear my mother-in-law saing, "It's time to let it go, honey." I'm working on it!

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  14. Maybe by working through your fears and grief by expressing them, you'll get through it sooner than later. I hope so. And just for the record, I'm really looking forward to your Christmas story!

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    1. Thank you, Margie! I just want things to be instant--and in this case, they're not.

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