Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life. – Stephen King, “On Writing”
I’ve made a lot of incorrect assumptions in my life. I assumed any Thoroughbred trained for racing would have easy lead changes. I assumed that if you were nice to people, paid your taxes and showed up to work on time that the universe would protect you from its worst.
I also assumed writing a book would be fairly easy.
It’s not that I think writing itself is easy. I’ve been writing in some capacity since I was sixteen. Of course it’s hard, but I’ve had years of practice. This blog in particular has been a safe space for to develop my voice and experience with content. I’ve been able to experiment with different kinds of posts and gauge reactions with comments and social media engagement. For a writer, having a blog can be a lot like doing stand-up comedy. Sometimes your jokes fall flat, but sometimes you get a surprise standing ovation.
Another tool for the book this blog provides is a timeline to things that happened after losing Tim and how I felt about them. If you’ve ever gone through extreme grief, you may be aware how much it can mess with your memory. My brain was processing so much with Tim, BT, the logistics of the estate and moving several times that it couldn’t hold onto memory very well. The time period between July and October 2015 is extremely spotty. Not unlike a drunk person blacking out, I “woke up” around late October wondering what the hell happened over the summer. The blog has filled in the gaps for me, and preserved some of those feelings during that time that I wouldn’t remember otherwise.
Blog posts about grief or subjects other than look at my horse he is a cool horse and I sure do like him a lot okay here are some pictures ps still no lead changes, swim around in my head for a few days before I sit down to write them. By the time I’m at the keyboard, I’m pretty aware of the central theme I want to express and the arc which I attempt to do so. If it’s about Tim, I might dab a few artful tears away as I write but typically have myself pretty much in order as I get the words down. It’s not easy, but it’s not remarkably hard either.
I thought the book would be the same way, but I was wrong.
The best way I can describe writing this thing, is that it’s the emotional equivalent of taking a knife, slicing off pieces of your flesh and throwing them into a fire. If that metaphor had any semblance of physical truth, I’d be really skinny these days. As it stands, I mostly feel like I’m sacrificing myself to attempt to write this thing.
It’s so hard. It’s bringing up things my brain probably wanted to forget, but in pursuit of truth and honesty they make their way back to the page. I think it’s easy for people to assume that writing is therapeutic for me. If one more person tells me, “This must be cathartic for you” I might scream. In truth, I do reach conclusions about myself and Tim and grief and life through my writing, but I’m not writing for the purpose of doing so. When those come out, I think they are as big of a surprise to me as they are to the reader.
Yesterday I texted with a writing friend about how hard working on the book is, and how I feel like it’s crushing me. It’s a huge burden to try and produce a piece of work that will outlive the person you’re writing about, and the weight of this thing is making me question some of my life choices.
She responded, I’d bet you couldn’t not do it.
Which is the truth. Writing the book is not easy, but I don’t have a choice. It’s not in pursuit of therapy or healing that I work on it, but something bigger that I can’t define exactly. Some people, especially writers or artists, respond to grief by a fierce drive for creation. Maybe that’s what the book is for me, but it seems like more than that. It seems like this wild, nebulous thing where I’m the only person that can tame it.
There are countless works about grief. Some are great, and some are not. Each is different. This one is mine, and even if it damn near kills me I’m going to write it.