Writing Through Grief

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? For me, it was sitting in a room with my dying sister and working on revisions to a manuscript.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? You’d think I’d have been hanging on her every word at the end. I did but the problem was, she wasn’t awake much during those last few days.

Plus, my sister was always one of my biggest fans. In the weeks before the illness really took over, I’d won the Where the Magic Begins contest. Her response, “See, I told you were good. Just get an agent this time.”

That was Donna in a nutshell. Always quick with a compliment and quick to remind me that I had more to do. The week before I got the word the end was near, we sat down and she made promise to keep writing no matter what happened.

Funny, even then she kept her role as big sister going. Nevermind that she was forty and I’m only 370 days younger.

Still, I promised her. So, as she lay sleeping between doses of pain meds, I reviewed feedback from my beta readers, revising and reworking scenes accordingly.

In fact, even planning her memorial, I kept going. I didn’t stop working until about two weeks after Donna’s death. When I finally sent the manuscript out on submission, I picked up the phone to call her and wept.

I hadn’t let myself truly grieve for the loss. Determined to fulfill a promise, I kept writing the story she’ll never finish reading. The story she believed in when I first suggested the premise to her more than two years ago.

It’s weird. I often hear from other writers how life is affecting them in such a way that they cannot write. I had a friend who’s ex pulled a whammy on her a few years ago, but she kept writing. When Donna was nearing the end, I asked this friend how she kept going. She told me that she kept focused on the future. Then she reminded me that cancer has taken so much from my life don’t let it steal my dreams too.

How do you keep motivated in the face of a missing muse, catastrophe or life crisis?

This entry was posted in Writer's Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Writing Through Grief

  1. selenafulton says:

    Oh Mary, I know exactly how you feel. <3 I want to call Mom and tell her what I've done on my stories. We plotted together often. Hugs.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Especially the part where you picked up the phone to call Donna when you finished. Now you have the dreams of two people in your corner. Failure is not an option. – – Susan B. Anthony (which is the quote I have up in my office this year.)

Leave a Reply