Swimming With Chuck*

open-water-swimmer[1]The past few weeks have been hard. TBH, the past few years have been “less than pleasant.” I’ve spoken before about grief, loss and all the other four letter words that have stopped me from writing. I’ve also spoken about the EIC. He thinks the four letters words are “another lame excuse for quitting.” Writing keeps him quiet. Evidently it’s been too long since I’ve written anything. His words are red, because he’s mad that I’ve kept him quiet for so long.

I’ve been meaning to write more often. I’ve been meaning to return to the things I enjoy. I planned on blogging twice a week, on a regular basis. I also planned on signing up for NanoWriMo. At the very least I was going to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

You know what Robert Burns said about “The best laid plans of mice and men…..”

I had every intention of returning to stand-up and acting.

You know where good intentions lead.

Oh please, be quiet. Unless you have something good or helpful to say, just SHUT UP.

… 

Huh. Evidently standing up to a bully makes them back down. Who knew?

The good news is that I didn’t make it all the way to Hell. I’ve been stuck in the pit of despair.

I don’t mind it here. It’s dark, but not lonely – I have all my other personalities to keep me company.

I’ve been trying to blog on a regular basis, but I couldn’t seem to finish. Couldn’t think of anything to say, couldn’t find the words to say what I couldn’t think of.

The worst part was that I couldn’t figure out WHY I couldn’t write.

It’s called writer’s block (DUH!)

Oh good. You’re back.

Miss me?

No.

Hurtful.

….

ANYWAY. I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been stuck. And then I got an email from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig. I follow him, which means I get an email whenever he posts a new piece. I get a lot of emails. I don’t mind, because I love the way he writes. He’s funny, and smart and writes on a regular basis.

Unlike you.

Oh, for the love of all the gods, will you please GO AWAY!!

Fine. I’ll go for now, but (just like The Terminator) I’ll be back.

Can’t wait.

Where was I?

Today’s post Swimming Sideways: Navigating Grief As A Writer And An Artist resonated with me. Chuck shared an email he received from a fellow writer: “I know you lost your mom recently and I wanted to share my condolences. I, also, lost mine over a year ago and it has completely paralyzed me – stopped me in my creative tracks.

And there it was, in black and white. The reason for my unsurmountable block.

Grief. Grief is a four letter word (before you say anything, I’m aware that it’s five letters – but my grief has come from loss, and loss IS a four letter word).

There have been too many losses these past few years. Loss of health, loss of career, loss of friends and family by blood and heart.

It’s been said that grief is a wet wool blanket, but I think Chuck got it right when he described grief as water:

Grief is water. Grief is wave, river, and lake, it is the sea, it is a current.

You do not control it; rather, you can only respond to it. It wants what it wants, and it is always moving, ready to fill the low spaces. Sometimes you’re in its shallows, sometimes you step wrong and you’re in its tireless, unrelenting depths looking for light, trying to find which way is up. But it’s always there. Sometimes wet on your feet. Other times a fog, a mist, a light rain….Maybe grief is undertow. You don’t swim away from it. You damn sure don’t swim into it. You swim sideways. You find a way left or right and you swim out of its current. That’s the only response, I think. What that looks like, in form, is up to you. But I want to say it’s okay to write, it’s okay not to write, it’s okay to write badly, it’s okay to write beautifully in a way that isn’t practical or useable, it’s okay to write about it or write to avoid it. Whatever it is you create, it’s a response to the grief or looking away from it. Toward it to see it and understand it, or from it to escape it.

It’s swimming sideways.

All I know is, keep on going. Keep swimming. Those we have lost would want us to, wouldn’t they? One suspects it might be their greatest wish, and so we honoring them by doing exactly that, in whatever way we can muster, in whatever direction we find best, with our strongest stroke.

Like I said. Chuck is smart. It’s just one of the many reasons I follow him. You should too.

If you or a friend or family have been swallowed by grief, you can find a local griefshare group here, or you can find online resources here or here.

And to borrow a phrase from my favorite fish – just keep swimming

 

*Swimming with Chuck is more fun than swimming with sharks.

 

 

 

 

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