Saturday, February 16, 2008

Writing in your darkest moments

Earlier this week I had a mental breakdown: I'm getting over being ill, exhausted, in a job that drains me, to make matters worse-the company is downsizing, my dear sister is a special needs child so I travel home (45 miles) to help out, and the reality of my recent break up has finally kicked in. I'm caught in a snowball of trying to balance my desire to create and the realities of life.

In my head on a good day, I am Supergirl, when I'm exhausted, Joan Crawford. When Joan rears her head, its time to call your best friend.

A distraught phone call (from the bathroom floor at work) to my best friend, I'll call Mycroft. Almost on cue in true fairy godmother style, Mycroft appears, baring a box of chocolates and words of wisdom. She reminds me that some of the greatest pieces of literature have been penned in the darkest moments for example:  Charlotte Bronte's, Jane Eyre. Charlotte penned Jane Eyre in a dark room, while her tyrannical father lay dying from TB. Charlotte was going blind and her mouth was stuffed with gauze because her teeth we rotting out of her head. JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter while on welfare, the list goes on. Mycroft reminded me that life is messy and if I want to be writer, I must learn to write in the darkest of moments. 

So hear I sit, with a box of mint chocolates, a copy of Jane Eyre, and notes for my novel slowly typing away. Whenever, I feel myself wanting to lay down on the couch and drown myself in a sea of dvds. I page through Jane Eyre, eat a chocolate and keep on writing. Its not easy, however, not writing is far worse.



Laura Bradley Rede said...

Hey, Heather. I hear you. Everyone's situation is unique, but I think we've all had our moments (days? years?) in the dark. No easy answers here-- I struggle with this myself-- but at least know that one reason you have a writers' group is for support. Also, in theatre we would say "use it!" A lot of fantasy is about light vs. darkness. Characters have to hit their lowest points in order to grow. If you can draw on your life in your writing, maybe both your life and your writing are better for it. In the meantime I'll leave you with the immortal words of Grover from Sesame Street who said "This kind of situation does not call for freaking out." It's my mantra :) Take good care.

Nola J Moore said...

Hey HRJ - sending good and loving vibes your way!!

Kudos for you for diving into the writing, and dealing with the darkness - I think it hurts more at first, but heals better in the long run.

Lots of love.

Jason said...


I'm going to go two ways on this one.

You're right; you make time for the things that are the highest priority in your life. If you don't, then they weren't really that high a priority in the first place.

Priorities, however, fluctuate. Things rise up which need to be dealt with, and they deservedly take higher priority. Just because a thing you value takes a temporary backseat doesn't mean that it's always in the backseat.

That's been my life for the past year...very little or no writing for me. But I've been chasing and catching other dreams. I'm hoping to eventually work my way back to the writing path and into the writing habit. I have to attend to a few other things first that have temporarily taken higher priority.

So if there comes a point when other things need to be addressed, you're permitted to attend to those things first.

There are certain things you're not permitted to skimp on like sleeping, eating, eating chocolate, or watching Battlestar Galactica, but others can slide for a while.


PS Just remember,
"Join the Dark Side...We have cookies."