Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life intrusions

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Writing takes discipline. You have to put your butt in the seat and fill the pages with words. If you don’t do it, no one else will. And since more often than not a writer is self-employed, there isn’t a boss looking over your shoulder threatening to make you work late if you don’t get that day’s job done. Writing requires a personality that can sit down, self-motivate and type day after day until the story is done.

When I’m writing, I always set a daily goal. Sometimes I hit the goal. Some days I miss it. But regardless of whether I hit the goal or not, I make sure that each and every day I write.

Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how disciplined the writer or how dedicated one is to the project at hand life intrudes. This week life intruded for me. Monday night, I got a call from my mother telling me that a man who watched me grow from my childhood self into an adult woman died unexpectedly. Not that death is ever expected, but still. This man wasn’t sick. He showed no signs of being anything other than vital and healthy and strong. One minute he was laughing with his family. The next he was gone leaving a whole in our hearts that can never be filled.

So this week, despite the desire to sit down and write I found myself unable to put words on the page. I cried with his family. I looked through pictures. I attended his wake and his funeral and shared the memory and impact of his life with those who loved him.

Some times life intrudes on our desire to be productive. We might not like it, but it is important for us to recognize when we can and cannot write. This week, life kicked me and this man’s friends and family in the ass. We all fell down, got up and did what we had to do to get through. The road in front of his family is long and hard. I know what they feel and will take as much time as needed away from my own work to make sure they have the support they need to survive. And tomorrow I will start writing again because it is what I do—what I have to do—what he was so proud of me for. And while the holidays will take time away from the work we all want to do, I cannot stress enough that we should all give life permission to intrude. Our families, our friends and the memories we make every day are the reasons we all can do what we do.


Gerald So said...

My condolences, Joelle.

I believe a writer's highest calling is to put into words an audience's deepest shared experiences, those most difficult to express. If writers don't indeed share in some of these experiences, they can't begin to write about them. Their writing becomes less vibrant, more routine.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Yes, you must keep going. If he was proud of your writing success, to let his death interrupt that would be all the more disappointment. But you're right--some times, you've got to wait for the words, and that in and of itself is not a disappointment. Be kind to yourself, Joelle.

Cathy Shouse said...

This is true, about goals, and when other priorities must take precedence. Do you have the same writing goal every day or does it vary? It sounds like you try to take Sundays off?

Our community in Indiana lost 4 individuals in a small plane crash in Illinois. I didn't know them well and didn't attend the funerals yesterday. I did spend time this week dwelling on the loss and thinking about what I would want to have accomplished if I were taken away before expected. Some of it included writing goals and most of it was being sure I put family first.

I hope your writing goes more quickly tomorrow because you took time out to grieve and celebrate a life.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Gerald - Thanks. And I agree - as writers it is important to experience so we can capture real experiences on the page.

Sarah - I will endeavor to be kind to myself:) I'm trying to convince the cat that he is supposed to be nice to me, too, but he still feels the need to howl at 2 am.

Cathy - I have the same word goal every day. I tend to write every day - even Sundays - when I'm writing. Today - well, I will attempt to write, but I'm giving myself permission to come up short since I know I am tired and still a little emotionally drained. But I might surprise myself and write ten pages. I live in hope!

Chuck said...

Condolences, Joelle. I am so sorry to hear that.

Do what you need to do to get through it.

-- c.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Absolutely lovely, Joelle!