Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I'll Never Read Again, and Why It's probably Going to Kill Me as a Writer

Hold on to your butts . . .

I'm going to write on this blog every day from now on.  

(Did you think I was going to restart the power and let the dinosaurs out or something?)

It's part of my "I'm going to be a writer" thing.  I don't think I'll pimp every post, because I have no doubt every post will NOT be pimp-worthy, so don't worry about a daily contamination of your newsfeed.

And to show you I'm serious, I'm not even going to cop-out and just use this announcement as my post.  (Though until I get the hang of this, you're probably going to get some unholy number of posts about writer's block or a lack of ideas. I'm just that original. )

I started reading my blogs today (and oh god, they seem to be multiplying) and through a chain of recommendations, I ended up on Momastery.  It's a pretty famous mommy-blog, but that title doesn't quite do it justice.  It's beautifully written and it's a community and I'm very likely NEVER GOING TO READ IT AGAIN.

I could give you various reasons like the author is a born again Christian or some of the comments (also made by good Christian women) stick in my craw something fierce, but I'd be lying.  The author's religion only makes it better (seriously) and I tend to ignore the comments on blogs anyway.  I'm never going to read it again, because she allows members of the community to guest post--to brutally, beautifully, and honestly share their stories--and I can't take it.  I read three of those stories, and all three were gut-wrenchers--the kind that leave me sobbing over my laptop and having to physically restrain myself from waking my son up from his nap so that I can hold him and kiss him and breathe him in and bawl some more because I'm not sure how I would ever survive something happening to him.

These stories, oh my god, these stories.  The emotional eviscerating these parents have had to endure . . . and then they turn around and show their still raw, gaping wounds to the rest of the world in the hopes that someone else will see them and know they are not alone, know they can survive, and maybe even know some sort of peace.

Not all of the stories ended in a child's death (though the first one I read did in the aftewards, and I audibly sobbed "Noooo!", scaring the crap out of the dog).  Many end with "this is how our life is now, and we've learned a lot of lessons, and we appreciate every moment we have."  And I hope some (that I will inevitably never read, because I am never going back there, ever) end with "that was the hell we went through, but we're past it now and all is well."

Maybe it's because I'm overly empathetic, maybe it's because my "meds" aren't a high enough dose, maybe it's because I have an additional undiagnosed mental issue (like anxiety or paranoia or whatever in the fuck else you diagnose "hysterical" women with these days), but when I read stories like those--ones that unabashedly catalog parents' worst nightmares and greatest losses--I immediately (without even realizing what I'm doing) try to imagine, and my imagination has always been incredibly vivid.  In the span of 2-3 minutes, it's all I can do to not collapse to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably, and screaming "WHY?"  And I wish I were exaggerating to attempt to insert some humor, but I'm not.  

Then, I'm exhausted, and pretty much a raw nerve for the rest of the day--but really only for sad things.  (Seeing a lost dog sign in the neighborhood can set me off into torrential tears.)

So what, just don't read such things, right?

But now I wonder how it will affect my writing.  Many authors write books sans child death/illness/tragedy/etc.  But good writers, really good writers, seem to have nothing they won't write about.  It doesn't matter if including that scene or memory leaves them choking and wasted for the rest of the day (or several days depending on how long it takes to write that section), they do it anyway.  In fact, a lot of the best writing seems to come from people who force themselves to live (or relive) their own hells.  People who choose to immerse themselves in that which most of use actively avoid thinking about.  People to whom nothing is taboo in the quest for the story.

If I can't even read certain tough stories, how can I ever write them?

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry, I now obsessively check my son's temperature (and I'm not alone, today his pre-k teacher took him to the nurse to have it checked b/c he felt warm). I'm sure this will pass and I can give you the it was not great, but we lived through it and life is normal-ish again story you are looking for in a few months. And I say normal-ish because I'm not sure there is a true normal when you have three kids and a fourth on the way ;-) And that diagnosis you are looking for for yourself is simply called hysteria (even if it is an antiquated diagnosis) and I think I might have it to.