Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writerly Wednesday: It doesn't get any worse than this

It's hard to believe more than 60 days have passed.

In some ways it feels like it's been years since the last time I wrote a true blog post. In other ways, it feels like I've merely blinked.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I've traveled the hardest road of my life during the past nine weeks.

If only I'd quit asking how life could get any worse.

I don't remember the first time that question popped into my head. It was probably about 13 years ago, when I dropped my daughter off at daycare and, as I headed to work, I seriously contemplated missing the turn and disappearing from my life.

It wasn't that I didn't love my daughter and husband. I just didn't love anything about me.

Fortunately, I realized that you can't run away from yourself.

Instead of missing the turn in to work that day, I turned to God and prayed. He led me out of that dark place, right into a job that helped me become a better writer. He led me to a place where I could chase my dream.

And things were good. For awhile. Until the realization of my husband's alcohol addiction and depression settled upon me.

As he went through withdrawal, I started asking myself: "How can it get any worse than this?"

As he struggled through med changes, I thought: "It can't get any worse than this."

And when he was prescribed one med a few years ago that nearly destroyed him, I let myself wonder: "Really? How could it possibly get any worse than this?"

Well, for starters, a new general practitioner's inexperience with bipolar and anxiety disorders could lead him through three med changes in four visits.

That GP could call me at work to tell me she's "worried about Dana."

I could snap at her and say, "I'm worried too. You need to quit screwing with his meds. Don't you realize what that does?"

She could lie to me about the course of treatment she wants to take, and then later have the nerve to write in her notes that I seemed "unconcerned" about my husband's well being.

The situation could actually get so bad I'd have trouble processing my anger several weeks later.

Still, within days I found myself asking: "How could life get any worse?"

Well, my gorgeous teenage daughter could date someone who doesn't respect her boundaries.

A 500-year flood could hit my hometown.

A raging river could rise to within 200 yards of my childhood home.

I could develop such a cynical attitude about writing that my eyes would roll back into my head when an agent would post something on Facebook or Twitter.

I could question whether or not I should let go of the dream I'd been chasing for years.

I could spiritually fall into a place so dark the very existence of God seemed laughable.


Yeah, it got that bad. But I now realize it could have been much, much worse.

I've read that writers aren't supposed to use their blogs as personal diaries.

It could be detrimental to your pursuit of publication.

Guess what? I've decided I don't give a damn.

I'm not bitter (except about the doctor thing). I just realized that I no longer enjoyed writing -- and living -- because I stopped writing and living from the heart.

I realized my heart was dying, and my body was becoming an empty shell.

Believe me. It won't get any worse than that. I won't let it.

It took a long time and I've traveled a long, hard road to bring you the most important (I believe) piece of writerly advice I can give.

That is: You'll go crazy writing what you think other people might want to read and living how you think other people might want you to live. Don't do it. Instead, write what you feel, and don't be afraid to let people see you are real.

Peace and happiness.


Crimey said...

Kat, I'm so glad to see you back. I love your nuggets of wisdom; so much that I look forward to them. You and your family WILL come out on top of the bad times. Life's a tough ride but hope and perseverance will get you a long way.

p.s. Post whatever the hell you want on your blog. It's yours. :)

Kat Heckenbach said...

Kat, I've missed your posts--I'm sorry to see you've been absent because of difficult times. I'm glad you've come through, though. And I know how you feel. Not that I've dealt with just what you're dealing with--but I've gone through some tough times myself. Cancer, for one. I know how it feels to not be able to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel--to feel the tunnel somehow ran straight to the center of the earth and you're just walking in circles in the dark. You'll be in my prayers now!

As for writing--I so agree. And it is hard. Very hard. To write for your heart and not be swayed to follow the masses. I've rolled my eyes at many-a post by an agent on FB or a blog. The forest of conflicting opinions about how publishing "really" works is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Glad you're back--and thanks for having the guts to be real.

ali said...

Personally, Kat, I think your very willingness to be real, to be raw and uncensored, is the thing that is likely to make you a raging success. Because your readers will know they can trust you. And when they find your truths in the books you right, they'll respect and admire you all the more.

As for the actual junk you've been living with ... well, ((hugs)). What doesn't kill ya and all that, right?

Eric said...

Like Ali, I also appreciate your brutal honesty and the real emotion in your posts. I'm sorry life has been so difficult for you, but what I read behind the words is a strength of will that surpasses it all. I don't think you should worry one bit about whether your blog posts will affect your chances at publication. This is who you are, your words are who you are, and that's what I enjoy most about reading your blog - getting a glimpse into who the wonderful Kat is.

While I cannot match the difficulties you have faced lately, I have to say I felt the tone of this post reverberate deep in my bones. I feel so many of the things you say here, and I appreciate you saying them. They help me not feel so bad when I have thoughts and feelings along similar lines. Thank you for baring your soul Kat and for being the cool person you are. Keep at it and know you are appreciated :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kat. I'm glad you shared this. Been thinking and praying for you a lot over these last weeks.

Hang in there, sister. You are loved.

Elana Johnson said...

I *heart* you, and you can write anything here and I'll read it, because you always always make me feel something.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I totally agree with Ali and Eric. I've always thought you have a special gift for honesty.

I'm sorry your road has been so rocky for the last few months, but I am very glad to see you back.

Follow your passion as a writer. I'll be there cheering you on!