Pain and Pen

About a year ago, I posted the question, “Must a thing be tragic to be beautiful? Discuss.” I’ve been bouncing this thought around in my head as I consider what to do with the story I started writing during National Novel Writing Month.

When I was a kid, I wrote fiction voraciously. It was largely plagiaristic and un-self-consciously awful, and I don’t think any of it has survived the various self-loathing fueled cleaning sprees over the years. Some tiny bit of me wishes, though, that I could write again with such reckless abandon, and Nanowrimo helped turn off the inner critic by connecting me with others who were just as crazy as I am. (In the words of a fellow Nanowrimo-er, “If Stephenie Meyer can do it, I can do it.” Oops, sorry.) I started to dribble onto the page (or screen, as it were) an imaginative retelling of what has happened in the last year and what I hope will yet happen. I was getting to know my characters (and by proxy, myself) when bombs started dropping on my life, so I packed the kids off to the countryside until things blew over.

And now that the sky has cleared, the urge to process this particular time in my life has ebbed. What I do not know is whether the need has truly passed, or I am just so elated to be unmiserable that I cannot currently fathom rippling that pond again. And maybe I am still clinging to grief because, well, I’m just not sure what my life would be without it even though I’m pretty sure it would be better.  I’m just afraid of the unknown, I guess.  The same thing has happened before; I started writing but it came so slowly that before I knew it, there was nothing left to process, at least no raw emotion. Can some stories only be told from a place of pain? And if so, must I tell that particular story?

Let’s finish this thought session with a quote from our favorite paragon of positivity, Ernest Hemingway:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”


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