Losing someone you love has a way of stirring up a lot of reflective thinking. In this quiet season of letting go I’ve been thinking about some of the ways grieving is similar to what I do every day—crafting novels.
Here’s what I came up with . . .
Writing & grieving—
Force you to think about intention and purpose
Whether it’s mourning the loss of a loved one or hunkering down to edit, you spend a good deal of time considering why you or your character exists. Little things start to matter. Like simple acts of kindness. Thought is given to all that came before, every season of life that led to this present place. It’s a soul-rubbing process. An awakening and embracing of what’s to come.
Challenge you to take a step back and look at the world differently
One shot. You consider this as you awkwardly stumble through the reality of saying goodbye to a person or a manuscript. One shot at life. One shot with a novel. Making your words and actions count becomes exponentially more important as this reality settles in.
Require you to get honest with emotion
You ugly cry. You dive deep with the characters, rooting to the real reasons they behave the way they do. Grieving and writing draw out our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities. They push, prod, and poke until we’re raw with pain, driving us to the point we’re willing to let go. There’s a certain surrender grief and creativity share, it’s a beautiful release that feels all at once agonizing and wonderful.
Bring out the historian in you
You research a town. Expressions on people’s faces. You drag out photos of your loved one. Old letters. You take that walk down memory lane. You create a memory lane as an author and student of your characters. Things and moments gone by gain a fresh pertinence. A newfound appreciation.
Conjure thoughts about character and influence
Who do you want to be? Who do you want your characters to be? These questions take on more relevance. How will I impact others? What imprint am I leaving on the world?
Shed light on the unnecessary so easily mistaken as necessary
The picture you forgot to post. The comeback you never got to use. The unwashed dishes or dusty floors. As soon as you commit to life as a writer, if you pay close attention, you’ll identify distractions creeping up from everywhere. These life interferences dress in bold colors when you’re grieving. There’s nothing sneaky about them. Whether you’re working on a book or hurting in the aftermath of a death, the unnecessary will hover. The unnecessary is patient. A constant. There’s nothing quite like losing someone to help you filter through what’s important and what’s not.
This is why I love fellow writers. We’re not what I would call shallow people. We go deep. We dare to be vulnerable. Sure, sometimes we can be a little intense or caught up in our own imaginary worlds, but it’s so much fun leading you into those worlds with us.
My friend Kim Hooper’s book TINY releases this week. I’ve read her work before and she has a way of depicting characters in such an honest and compelling manner. I cannot wait to read this one! I hope you’ll check it out. Kim is a seriously gifted author.