When I was younger and writing mostly poetry and song lyrics, the words only came when I was sad. For a long time, I thought that’s how it must work. I still was writing that way into my 30’s. I have a black spiral notebook titled “Tragic Poetry” in the limited number of things I’ve toted around for years.
Then, somewhere along the way I started really working on my fiction, and I found that I didn’t need to be a tortured artist in order to be creative. Stories poured forth from my imagination instead of springing out of my own personal demons. Writing became a pleasure instead of a place I crawled into, like an alcoholic crawling into a bottle.
Now I have power over the writing instead of the other way around.
I haven’t written while I was troubled for a very long time, but today – right now – that’s changed. Tonight I got some very bad news. Someone I love is sick, and the outcome is not one of recovery. It has rocked the minuscule family of my daughter and myself. After putting her to bed and trying to sleep myself, I’ve gotten up and come to sit at my sturdy oak table to write this post, and then to perhaps work on finishing the scene of Oldsters I started this morning.
This is growth. This is the action of someone who has learned how writing helps lift you out of despair, instead of pushing you further into it. I drive myself to string words into the most beautiful sentences I’m capable of at the moment.
Writing is not just a talent, it is truly a gift. I’m thankful tonight to use it for this purpose.