From the Basement

July 16, 2010

On Writing & Grief

Filed under: Family,Writing — jeannablue @ 6:28 pm
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Up until last night, the writing was not going well this week – prayer writing, blog writing, fiction writing. This has been hampered in part by exhaustion and in part by my own crazy expectations, but mostly because of the frightening illness that struck our 3-year-old cat, Lucy. She passed away late Wednesday night, and we got the call Thursday morning from the vet that she had died.

Strangely enough, I think that Lucy’s death has driven me back to writing. The week has been so clouded with uncertainty surrounding her illness that the clarity of her death was almost welcome – she’s out of pain, and there is an end to the madness that permeated the house. We said our goodbyes, and she is now buried in the backyard with a pinwheel marking her grave (stone marker to follow).

Where before the house was emotionally frantic, we are now settling down. There is sadness, and pain, and loss – especially for my mom – but things are coming back down to normal, whatever normal is.

Maybe the release of grief and frustration helped unlock the creative recesses of my brain, but the last 15 hours, say, have been a firestorm – not necessarily of writing (though I have been doing that) but rather of figuring out what the story is about. There’s a key event in the past that I didn’t know, and now I do. I feel like I can proceed so much more smoothly, knowing what it is that’s driving the heroine toward her present course of action.

Another thing that helped free the ideas was pictures. I don’t do this very often, but late last night I stumbled across a recommendation to go through magazines looking for pictures of your characters. I found many pictures, only a few that I know definitively are my characters, but that’s more than I had before, and seeing multiple pictures of them – even possibilities – was so encouraging, so inspiring.

I am well aware that losing a pet is not like losing a person, but there is a palpable sense of loss in a house that comes with the death of a beloved pet. And today, I am filling that sense of loss with writing, with experiencing my characters’ grief rather than my own, dealing with their families instead of mine. It’s times like this I am very grateful I have a story to disappear into.

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May 12, 2010

Clarity vs. Trust

During my reading this morning, I came across a beautiful story told by the author of Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning. He recounted his experience meeting Mother Teresa. When she asked how she could pray for him, he requested a prayer for clarity. But, to his surprise, she refused. When asked to elaborate, she said (and I’m paraphrasing) that clarity and trust were incompatible – that a prayer for clarity belies fear and a spirit that does not trust God.

We are called to trust what we cannot see, to trust the promises of God, and more often than not, a prayer for clarity is a prayer for clear direction – so that we can walk toward the visible rather than walking by faith. I am certainly guilty of this. While I think that praying for clarity (e.g. that we would sense His hand in a situation) is not in itself a bad thing, my prayers for clarity are so often out of fear of the future … mistrust. I know that I’ve abided in that very human, very dark spirit of fear and anxiety rather than abiding and trusting in my Maker.

I know I posted a portion of Romans 8 a few days ago, and I think these verses were in that post, but I just want to affirm the awesome power and hope that is in these verses:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He alos justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:28-31

Be blessed today.

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