Monday, July 23, 2012

On Death, Difficult Things, And Writing

Confession: I did not want to write this post. But since I am talking about difficult things, and this post proved to be among those things, I chose to write it anyway.

Last Tuesday night, I had a nightmare. Usually, I have trouble remembering what I dream about, but on this occasion, the nightmare was so intense that it stuck with me. I was on campus, heading for one of the department buildings, when a man dressed in black shot me. For some reason, the bullet didn't hurt me at all, and I managed to run away from the shooter. But he, along with a group of armed people clad in black, followed me to my classroom. They held the entire class hostage as they gossiped about their lives. Then they walked out, harming no one, and I woke up. 

Last Friday, as you may know, a man went to an Aurora, Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire on the audience. Twelve people were killed. Many more were injured.

That same Friday, I had scheduled to write a funeral scene in my WIP. 

I did not want to write it. I felt too useless, too sad, to do anything but follow the updates on the Aurora shooting. There was nothing I could do to change these victims' fate, but I felt like just by knowing how they were doing, I was cheering them on to get better. To survive

I convinced myself writing the funeral scene would break me. Even looking at the laptop made me cry. Why did I have to force myself to face more sadness when I was already facing enough of it? Why was my nightmare so vivid and memorable? Why did it happen that week, of all weeks?

Those are some of the difficult things I can't answer. All I can do is accept the fact that they're there, existing just as I am, and push through. Later that Friday night, I sat down, turned on my laptop, and wrote that funeral scene. I cried some more. Nearly quit halfway through the scene. But I didn't. 

I pushed through.

Especially because I didn't want to.

Most difficult things in life are unwanted. Death is certainly not something I want, neither for myself nor for anyone else. But for some reason, I had to embrace it last week. I had to grapple with questions without answers, and even though I don't fully understand their purpose, I found my way out of them. 

Whether it's in your writing or in your life, keep going. Difficult things look much, much better when they're behind you.


  1. I had also planned to write on Friday. Not a funeral scene, but I wanted to start the second draft of my WIP -- a contemporary story that include a gunfight in the climactic scene and repeatedly references a massacre that is part of one character's backstory. Although I am never graphic in my description of the violence, it is there. And suddenly I felt very sick, writing about these things for entertainment when in real life, they are not entertaining at all.

    I'm not sure I've completely reconciled myself to this yet -- fictional violence in a book and real, horrific violence. I have gone back to work on the WIP, but I have a different perspective on it now.

  2. I agree--although I'd love to write stories with rainbows and unicorns, that's not me. And at times like these, it hurts to embrace my story as I should.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dianne!