Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back to the Beginning

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "The Mental Game"

 I wrote a blog post, quite some time ago, entitled: “Writing Through Grief.” So, I don’t know what you would call the last year of my life, or how to define it in a blog post. Maybe the post’s title should be:  “Hiding from Grief” or “Succumbing to Grief” or “Putting your whole life on hold?” “Major Suck-age” has a certain ring to it, too.

My last blog post was a year ago, today. I didn’t even realize it until I sat down and began to type. A whole year. Where did it go? What a different place I was in this time last year, writing a post about my “plan of attack” for 2012. I have to laugh - the best laid plans, eh? I can’t beat myself up over this past year of grief and despair and depression, though. Life has flayed me enough, even to satisfy my morbid tendency toward self-loathing. 

It started back in January when a friend, who’s importance in my life I can scarcely begin to describe, fell ill and ended up in the hospital. Bad news turned to fear, which turned to waiting, and finally, the worst news of all: terminal cancer. The next month was a blur of anxiety and difficult decisions. Finally, thankfully, I pulled my head out and hopped on a plane. Thankfully because, as it turned out, I would be seeing my friend for the last time. She died the day I left.  

I don’t even know how to describe the next few months. I’ve been mourning one person or another every year for the last five. I couldn’t be alone in my house but didn’t know how to be around people, I forgot all of my lofty plans and goals for writing, and I just tread water in a foggy haze of sadness and depression.

That was just the beginning of the year. I can’t even begin to describe to you the chaos, anxiety, fear, sadness and depression that followed in the latter half. Let’s face it, you don’t want to read the gory details, and I can’t stand the thought of recounting it all here. Maybe one day, but not today. It is all too recent and my new found peace of mind too fragile to risk. I’ll just say that there was more loss, plot-twists, illnesses and despair.

Maybe someone else would have done a better job at keeping the rest of their life together, but I admit that I let things fall apart. I let go. It was all I could do to get through the day-to-day, and I wasn’t very successful in that. Just as I thought my writing life was coming together in 2011, it all slipped through my fingers in 2012.

I made a few attempts at refocusing. There’s a draft blog post from back in May that I never published. I guess I knew deep down that I wasn’t ready.

It is strange to come back to this blog and my various writing accounts, everything seems frozen in time, which is fitting, really, as I’ve definitely glimpsed a hint of Miss Havisham in the mirror at times. Everything in my office has a film of dust, my writing posters and papers hang limply from their nails on my walls, and my white board still has a crazy plot diagram I can’t begin to make sense of now.

The one bright note in my writing world is that I joined a creative writing class back in September at my local college. I didn’t know what to expect, but it has been a wonderful experience. Having that weekly deadline for writing has helped me slip gently back into a routine. Reading my stories out loud and receiving feedback has been enlightening, reassuring, and motivating. After all, I don’t write just for myself, I want my stories to be read.

Then there is the fact that writing is such a solitary venture. I think that is the number one thing that has kept me away from keyboard, paper, and pen. Joining this course has been a way to ease back into writing by sharing my love of the craft with other like-minded people. Not only has it been wonderfully healing to read my own stories out loud to an audience of writers, but I didn't know how much I would enjoy reading and critiquing the stories of others. We’re just a bunch of writers talking about the thing we love. Glorious!

I imagine I’ve lost my readers over this past year, but I hope to look you all up and catch up, soon. Maybe you’re new here, and so you can pick up with me where I left off. In any case, I’m back.


  1. Hi, Jennifer,

    I've wondered where you wandered off to. I'm very sorry to hear about your year. 'Difficult' obviously can't begin to scratch the surface of how tough this has been for you. I'm glad you're back, glad you're finding writing again, and hope that 2013 turns out far, far better than 2012.

  2. Hi Jeff!

    Good to *see* you again! It has been difficult, but recent events in the world have helped me regain some perspective. I look forward to catching up with you on your blog. Hope 2012 was a good one for you. Either way - we're on to 2013.