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Author Topic: How real life messes up writing
Member # 2879

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I've gone through a tragedy recently (my wife miscarried after 4.5 months) and, along with other things, I've found that my joy in writing has been sucked out.

My novel was one of hope and redemption, but when I write now it's all venom and spite.

Has anybody else gone through a rough time, and had it effect their writing? Does it straighten itself out, or did you have to activly work at it?

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Member # 2878

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Sorry to hear about the miscarage. Hopefully you'll be able to try again with better results. One of my friend's wife miscarried two times before successfully having a healthy baby daughter.

I do think a writer needs to write no matter what is going on in their lives. That's the mark of a truly professional writer. Some of the best stories come out of people's worst experiences. No matter what, unless you want to quit writing for what could be years, don't let life stop you. Use the experiences and feelings if you can.

The only thing I have to suggest is that you use your current feelings and thoughts and focus them into a different project for the time being. Put your current work aside until some of your anger and frustration passes, which it will if you let it. For now, these emotions can be put to good use to create something new for you that you might not normally write. It could also be therapudic in getting some feelings off your chest.

It may be difficult, but I think the trick is to use whatever you have going on in your life and channel it into your writing. Let your words tell how you feel, even if it's something that no one but you will ever see. Put it on paper and get it off your mind.

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Member # 213

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Professionalism is overrated when it comes to art.

All the same, I don't think that you should stop writing. Don't ruin what you were writing before, though. Start a new project, even something autobiographical if you like. This is an important time in your life, and you need to get some things off your chest. You're also going to want to go back and read some of what you wrote during this time.

Oh, and I hate to mention this, but "effect" doesn't mean the same thing when used as a verb.

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Member # 1563

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On the other hand, don't feel obliged to write if you don't want to.

True, a professional writer must write continuously--but that's because that is his source of income. You don't write, you don't eat. Good for the figure, but nothing else.

Each writer is different. I went a full year without completing a single story, and then came back to it without any trouble. (But, then again, I am the polar opposite of prolific.) And it hasn't prevented me from publishing--only from publishing very much.

So, if you feel you cannot write right now, don't sweat it. If the flame is still in you, you'll come back to it when you are ready. It's not the end of the world. On the other hand, if you feel you have to write, don't suppress that, either. It is better to write than not to write at all.

Take care of yourself and your wife. The writing will take care of itself.

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Dean Wesley Smith calls these "Life Rolls."

See this thread for a good discussion of it.


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Member # 2769

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Haven't posted in the forums in a long time. I've just been lurking. Sorry to hear about your loss. I miscarried last month in the middle of trying to do NaNoWriMo. I managed to finish the story and 'win', but the experience was flat. I did it just because I'm stubborn, I think.

I took some time off from writing after that and threw my energy into household projects. Now I'm editing a novel length story, but I still don't feel like starting anything new. Just take your time to get through this. You'll have good days and bad days. We'll exchange pictures of our newborns in a year or so, okay?

(Edited to change a word.)

[This message has been edited by NMgal (edited December 21, 2006).]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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rcorporon, please accept our condolences on this very real tragedy in your life.

It is completely understandable that this loss would affect your creativity, because bringing a child into the world is also a very creative thing and to have that so painfully stopped is bound to carry over into other acts of creation.

If writing out your sorrow helps to get it where you can deal with it, by all means do so. Writing has been therapeutic for many people in many circumstances.

If, on the other hand, attempts to write only frustrate you and add to your pain, don't add guilt that you're not writing to what you are already suffering.

Your psychic creative reservoir has been attacked, and you need time to recover. Give yourself that time, comfort your wife and allow her and others to comfort you. Allow yourself to mourn for this child. The pain will ease, but you will always have a tender place in your heart for what might have been.

And when you have had some time away from it, your novel may be able bring you hope again.

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Robert Nowall
Member # 2764

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I can't say I've suffered a major tragedy in my life---ever, arguably, and certainly nothing on that scale---but life's petty annoyances sometimes get in the way. And sometimes they don't.

For example...in the last few months, I've had this situation at work, where I was doing something exactly the way I was told to do it, only this supervisor insisted I do it another way---in a terribly obnoxious and rude manner. One thing led to another, and, in the end, I was threatened with dismissal over the issue. (The issue? I carried my electronic timecard around in my pocket---as I was told to do when I was first handed one---instead of putting it in a rack next to the timeclock---which, up until this supervisor yelled at me about it, I'd never been told to do.)

What does this have to do with my writing? Well, the matter started rolling about mid-September. Mid-August, I started a kind of prolific period where, till early October, I churned out about fifty thousand words of novel attempt, writing each and every day. All while all this was going on at work. I would've thought this kind of nonsense would keep me dry as far as writing would go---only it didn't.

(The last couple of months have been less prolific, only another ten thousand words or so. I date the break from a two-week vacation I took in early October. If anybody's interested, the matter in question came to a settlement right after I got back---when other supervisors politely explained what was expected of me concerning timecard handling.)

Dry periods come and go for me, but not in relation to anything I can map out onto my life. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't write the day of a serious tragedy, maybe the week of it...but after that, I don't know.

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Member # 2713

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I've experienced similar things.

The summer my best friend died I completely dried up. It was over a year before I could write creatively again, and then I had my first miscarriage. And then I found myself able to write again, and then had another miscarriage. And more Life Happened, and the well was sucked dry. It was a few months after my first child was born that I started dabbling again.

I was in grad school for anthropology when I had my miscarriages. After the second one, one of my advisors sent me away to recouperate for a couple of weeks. She excused me from all assignments, but told me to express what I was feeling in whatever way I could when I could. She encouraged me to write it down, to keep a journal, if possible. It would be useful for me to heal, and in the future professionally when dealing with other women when they've had such an experience. (I was in medical anthropology, so the possibility of such a situation was a very real possibility.)

I felt completely numb for the first week, and for a lot of the second week. It was a couple of months before I could find my way through what I was feeling so I could write it down (my primary means of expression as a general rule, anyway). But when I was ready, when I was emotionally, psychologically, and physically ready, when some energy had returned, I could make some words.

These difficult situations haven't made it into my fiction; I don't know if they ever will. But by writing about them, even years down the road, even just as journal entries, I have helped myself heal and deal with them.

I think we're writers for a reason. There's something about it that appeals to us. For so many of us there is an actual physical need to write. Sometimes that goes for a while. Writing is hard work, and to pull yourself out of the difficult situations that will come in life and write is incredibly hard, and maybe even impossible. I have had hard times in my life, like the night my husband took a dear friend to the ER when he was suicidal, that all I could do was write. I felt helpless, and ansy, and so I worked on my craft. But focusing one's energies in such a way isn't always possible.

I would say that when times are hard and you can do it, write. And when times are worse, and you can't, don't. If you are anything like me, you will know when you can again. It urge and words may come in the middle of the night, but they will come again. Just give yourself the time to put yourself back together again, and your writing will help you travel to the other side of your troubles.

I am reiterating what others have said, I know, but sometimes it helps me to hear the same thing from more than one place .

I am sorry about your loss, and for NMgal, too. Take care, and I wish you the best when it's time to write again.

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Member # 2267

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What Survivor said.

After all, life's more important than writing. Maybe you'd do well to journal for a while, to get through what you're going through.

Sorry to hear about your loss.

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