As you can probably tell by my previous short post, my sister died last week. It was completely unexpected. She was fairly young, and healthy, but she fell down dead at work.
To say the entire family went into shock and mourning is putting it mildly. We’re still waiting for autopsy results, but the reality is that my sister is gone forever. Her life was cut way too short, and I still tear-up at unexpected moments. There’s a deep, jagged hole where she used to be. I’ll miss her for the rest of my life.
So, in light of this, I evaluated my life. I wondered if writing was worthwhile, since life is so short. Why work so hard at something so iffy, when tomorrow it could be me lying dead? Why not just smell the flowers, or ‘eat, drink and be merry,’ as the saying goes?
At the same time, I’m waiting to hear from Clarion and Clarion West on my applications. At this point, I’m guessing I’m not making the cut, simply because it’s so late and I haven’t heard … but I just don’t know. And that uncertainty is making me crazy (or crazier than usual).
With my sister’s death, everything seemed irrelevant. These thoughts combined into “Why write and why bother with worrying about Clarion? Chuck it all and go drink margaritas on the beach!” After a really bad night of not sleeping and too much thinking, I’ve come back to some semblance of sanity. And I’ve come to terms with life, and writing, and writing’s place in my life.
I write because, deep down, I really do enjoy it. I might not enjoy every step of the steep learning curve, but the overall arc of writing is a joy. The thrill of finding just the right way of saying something, of a story that slips out of my hands from “the zone,” or a story that I wrestle from a jumble into a fine thing: these are moments of great happiness.
Like everything, joy comes with pain; stories that fail, or that I’m not ready to tell, cliches and telling-not-showing and too many adverbs and dry exposition — these are all painful and hard to overcome. But practice makes perfect: I’m a better writer today than I was last year, while I’ll never get any better at drinking margaritas on a beach.
Life is an evolution. I want to evolve into a writer. Still.