Have you ever read a book so good that it transports you to a different place? Science fiction will do that - historical fiction, too. Generally, any well-written fiction can sweep me away. This can be a great escape, a kind of therapy. Take me away from this place, you lovely collection of chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words.
If the book's setting happens in the midst of a blizzard, I may look out the window and feel such surprise to see that it's June where I live. Not a snowflake in sight. The author paints a world so different from the one I am in that I close the book and feel like I'm waking from a dream.
This is happening to me as I write this book: each page transports me to another time.
The scenes unfold across a broad spectrum:
joyful, happy memories;
sunshine in the darkness;
the days when he was alive, here, with us;
the day he died;
the thick fog of depression.
To put myself there is to revisit the trauma.
This writing calls for a kind of immersion; as I finish for the day, I swim to the surface. It's dark and cold, down there so deep. I swim toward the sun, trying not to run out of breath before I resurface.
I may not feel the emotional toll while I'm writing: such is the immersion. I'm fully there. I just write it as I see it, recall it, remember it to be. As I close my laptop, I wake from the dream. And I start to feel, feel, feel.
One day, before I learned this need for detox, I finished writing and headed to the grocery store. My emotions caught up with me in the produce section. I left my lemons in the cart. I drove home in a tremored daze.
I must allow myself a wide, gracious emotional margin.
I have to stop writing just before lunchtime so I can be a mom when the boys come home at 4:00.
Hello there. I'm an avid reader of your blog from Indiana 🙂 Don't remember how I got started..not sure why I continue, but I do. Maybe going through your grief with you has helped me cope with losing my beloved Dad, my mentor, my hero, 6 years ago. He passed away at home, of cancer, surrounded by his family. A couple years ago my Mom finished a book she wrote about his life and had it published. It's called Gramposh (a nickname given to him by my son, who was 8 at the time he died). Writing it sure was cathartic to my Mom, just as reading it is cathartic to me and my boys. Just wanted to tell you that.
Thank you for sharing that with me, Amy. I'm honored.
"I must allow myself a wide, gracious emotional margin.
I have to stop writing just before lunchtime so I can be a mom when the boys come home at 4:00."
I'm glad you recognize your need for and allow yourself to do this, Tricia, both for your sake and the boys'. My heart aches for you that you need to do so, that the places you have to go in your mind and heart to write this book put you through such a wringer. That very thing is what will make your book so outstanding, though. You're not just writing about what happened, you're putting your very self into it.
When you have completed your book, survived the revisiting of all the trauma and the emotional carnage it has left behind, know that your book is going to reach and touch and inspire and give hope to so many people. I almost see writing your book as a holy mission you're on, and holy missions aren't easy.
A holy mission. That's a beautiful phrase, Patty. That is what this feels like.