Tag-Archive for » Death «

Writing Through Grief

Writing for me is now mostly a way of life. It’s part of every day, my routine and a lot of my conversations. I tell stories. I paint scenes with a thousand words, and I love doing it. For the most part it makes me feel better, makes me feel like the world is right and I’ve done something productive within it.

The writing process for me is very emotional. I draw on the full range of emotions and experiences in my memory to try and evoke those emotions in whoever might read the story. I feel everything my characters feel, I often cry when they cry, find myself smiling when they smile, my heart pounds when theirs does, and even occasionaly I laugh out loud when they laugh.

Often, when I describe it to people I say that each emotion is a different tool on my desk. I have a red pen for all the passion and romance, a black pen for all the despair, a blue pen for sadness and a glitter pen for all the sparkly happy moments etc. I paint my scene with whichever colours and shades are needed, layering them up until I have the right blend and have a complete picture of all the complicated emotions that go into being a person or, in this case, one of my characters.

When my Grandma died (and even, before that, when she was taken into hospital) it was like someone had come into my office and messed up my desk. They’d moved everything and mixed black in with all my other colours so everything came out with a smear of black. For ages the happy emotions I would normally paint a scene with were tainted so badly when I tried to use them I came out with a brown gunky mess that wasn’t anything like the scene I was aiming for. No matter what emotion I tried to access it resulted in a flood of tears, or anger that had me almost hurling the nearest object.

Slowly, day, by day, some of the black has been filtered out of the colours. A lot of them are so close to their original colours now that I doubt most people would be able to tell the difference, but I still can. And for now, sitting down at my desk and working doesn’t feel quite right, but it’s getting there, and sometimes, for a bit, I can pick up a colour and paint with it and forget that anything ever happened to upset my desk and my writing world. But sometimes I notice, and sometimes I cry.

Tough Start to the Year

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve blogged very little so far this year. I’ve found myself rather overwhelmed. At the start of the year one of the most special members of my family passed away, my Grandma. She was almost 80, had diabetes and a few other health issues so in general terms she did quite well, but I was comfortably assured in my belief that she was going to be around as long as I wanted and needed her to be. Rationally of course I knew life and death wasn’t like that, but some people should live a lot longer than they do.

I’ve found it very difficult to write since she died and I’m still struggling a little, but I thought I’d share a poem I wrote for her recently. I think I’m going to call it But Not Yet.

Your front door was always open,
With a hug that warmed the heart.
One day we’ll be with you again,
But not yet.

You cooked a roast like no one else,
And for afters, ice-cream and flake.
One day we’ll get to taste it again,
But not yet.

You wanted to hear about our dreams,
And were always full of encouragement.
One day we’ll get to share them again,
But not yet.

You were always there to listen.
When we were troubled, you called us pet.
One day we’ll get to talk to you again,
But not yet.

You had a smile that lit up your eyes,
And a laugh we’ll never forget.
One day we’ll get to see you again.
But not yet.

The Book Thief: A Review

This book was recommended to me several times and I noticed it had been made into a film so I grabbed it and had a read.

To start with I felt the book was a little gimmicky with it being narrated by death, but it grew on me and the personality applied to death was very welcome humour to what could otherwise have been a very depressing story.

In terms of storytelling there was a lot I know teachers of writing would have frowned on and a part of my delight in the book was that so many of the writing ‘rules’ were broken. Plot was spoilt by the narrator on several occasions. We were told almost meaningless facts and stories that appeared to have no point, but it worked.

The characterisation the book was superb. Everything felt a little larger than life but it still worked and it was impressively consistent in it’s almost absurdity. I also loved death’s obsession with colour and it led to some of my favourite quotes from the whole book. ‘It [The light] was all the fabric of the curtains allowed. If you’re optomistic, think of it as bronze.

I found myself very touched by moments in the story, especially as it was told from the very innocent eyes of a child within Nazi Germany. So many of these sorts of stories are told from our point of view – The British – who must face the evil of Hitler and be brave, and while this story held to Hitler being evil and often his most violent supporters, it showed the humanity in the every day Germans. They were people who, just like us, wanted to survive, and had to do what they could and make decisions based on the little information their government allowed them to have.

All in all a pretty amazing look at a tough subject, that made me laugh aloud, mostly at its cleverness, but occasionally at its absurdity.

Escaping Eternity: A Review

I was given a copy of this book by the author, Lainy Lane, in return for a review.

It didn’t take me long to work out that this was at least inspired by a true story and I felt this added a lot to the realism of the mother’s grief and pain. By far they were my favourite chapters in the book and were written incredibly well.

While I liked the chapters set in heaven, I felt there was a little bit of a strangeness to them. There was evidently some ideas about heaven that were taken from the Bible and were consistent with the Christian view of what heaven will be like, but on occasions these felt a little like they contradicted with the characters learning to be Guardian Angels, so I felt a little let down by this.

I also didn’t like the ending. I had to read the last chapter a couple of times to work out what the mother and father were actually doing. The first time I read it, it sounded like they were going to buy a new house, but on reading again I guess they probably weren’t, but I’m still not sure what they were getting up to and felt the endings from both points of view were incredibly abrupt. I know it’s because there’s a sequel, but this is one of those occasions where I really feel that it should be all in one rather than split across several stories.

So to sum up, incredibly moving and well written from an emotional perspective, but a bit confused by the plot and what the author is trying to say from the fiction side of things.

A Storm of Swords: A Review

This is the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series (otherwise known as the Game of Thrones books) by George R. R. Martin and is so huge they had to split it into two volumes to print it economically.

So I enjoyed the first book, liked the second one a little bit less and sort of love and hate this third one. I think it’s the best in terms of storytelling and action. It’s got a nice pace to it and lots happens, which is great, but some of the stuff that happens left me a bit cross.

Most people who’ve heard of this series have usually also heard that there is a lot of death, and I really mean a lot. And this book is definitely no exception, in fact I think it’s the worst. There’s a lot of deaths and I can sorta accept one or two in a series. These people are doing dangerous things, so they’re going to die and I can sorta accept one or two more than that because this is a rather realistic series where there’s more everything that’s bad in the world but there are tooo many deaths in this book.

My favourite character is still Jon Snow but Tyrion comes a close second, although Walder Frey is now my most hated character (previously Joffrey). And maybe that doesn’t help with my attitude towards the book. Jon and Tyrion are the characters everyone else loves to try and screw over. I guess I’m truly British in my liking of the underdog.

I do have a lot of respect for George R. R. Martin after reading this book and trying to write my own epic fantasy though. I could never have written this book. I’d have spent the entire time crying in a pile somewhere with grief over all the characters I’d just mercilessly slaughtered.

Regrets

I recently read a blog by author Bobbi Holmes about death and she mentioned that it had made her wonder if family of deceased authors read the books they wrote because they realise the author has left something of themselves behind.

It made me think, especially about the idea that something of us goes into our art, and that it’s an important part of us. My words have me in them, and anyone who reads them is connecting with me, even if they are the other side of the planet.

As a writer I know it means a lot to me when people I care about take the time to appreciate my art. There’s very little that says I value you more than someone taking the time to read something I put hours of my time, countless emotions, and a small part of some vulnerable inner place.

I sometimes wonder how many people realise that something like this goes into the creative process and I wonder how many realise it too late. I Know if it was me I would struggle with feelings of regret. I would regret not reading while they were alive, and I’d regret not telling them if I appreciated it, but most of all I would regret how I hadn’t let them know I cared, that I wanted to get to know them.

So today I want to remind myself to appreciate the creativity of the people I care about, to do something that let’s them know I care, to take an interest in them and try to ensure that when they are gone, I’ve one less possible regret.