My eldest goddaughter calls me a “method writer.” By this she means that I experience everything as I write about it and materialize in real-life whatever I author on page. As is often the case, she is absolutely right.
I’ve been thinking about this because I spent the first half of this day writing a scene I’ve desperately avoided writing for two years. It’s about all the stuff I don’t like to think about, let alone read about. And yet the scene demanded to be written.
At heart my book is about post-traumatic growth–the magic that’s conferred when we rise from our own ashes– and you can’t write about such an ascent without first describing the fire.
After I sent in the day’s work I spent an hour curled up in a ball. I was worrying about the impact of these pages on my reader and overwhelmed by the sadness and rage and fear I’d had to unleash. I do not know how to write about pain without experiencing it anew.
For me the the worst thing about writing isn’t the writer’s block (I rarely have it) nor the poverty (though it’s becoming devastating) but that crazy, out-of-control feeling of diving into the biggest and hardest places without someone or something to pull me back out. There I sat in the late afternoon sunlight crying like a Child who had never been rescued.
Finally I remembered I had humans who loved me.
On the phone I talked to one of them. Older than me and also smarter, she said:
The idea that memories must be strengthened before they can be weakened is surprising because that’s not how it’s presumed memory works. Yet it’s true.
She went on:
I have spent days crying, whole days beating my fists on the floor, and I’ve always came out on the other side better. Most people can’t take it and that’s why they don’t change.
Mollified, I texted K and the two of us walked five miles in the sunshine. At an herbal apothecary we ran into one friend and then another and he made me drink a mushroom tea with CBD and rose maple oil. At this I rolled my eyes–my witchiness rarely extends to diet–but, surprise surprise, it brightened me immeasurably.
Then he took me to visit tiny baby kittens, which was especially big of him since he is not a cat lover (if you can fathom such a thing). By the time I banged home Gracie was mewing anxiously–she always knows when I’m super not okay–and I had returned to my body enough to remember to feed us both. And now it is 7:46 PM, high time for bed.
Being alive is rough. And also: precious. We are all, each of us, unlucky. And also: lucky.