Dear writerly friends,
I’m reeling at the recent loss of a friend who died too young and who has left a void in my world. Not for the first time in the last few years have I been knocked on my ass with a loss that reiterates the reality that we have no promise of time on this planet. Every time someone I love dies younger than I think is fair, I catch myself staring into space in reverie asking myself the existential questions I usually avoid with work, socializing, Netflix, Tiktok (etc.), and even with reading. Why am I here? What should I be doing with my time on this planet? What contribution should I be making? What REALLY matters?
This particular friend of mine was a writer, an editor, and a writing teacher–not to mention a funny, warm, interesting, lovely human. In our final text interaction she told me she had a short piece coming out in a literary magazine she’d always wanted to publish with. She suspected she would not live to see the publication. Would I help promote the work? she wondered. I said I would, of course. And then, when we were done texting, I cried.
What hurt/touched/struck me was how well my friend understood that her writing was MEANT to be read. How she knew that what would be left of her for those of us who loved her was her legacy–her opportunity to BE with us even when she was gone. How it was a GIVEN that what she had created must be shared.
I’m not going to lie to you, friends. I lose my creative mojo more often than I would like to admit. I’ve built tons of support and accountability (one of TNP’s FOUR PILLARS OF SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION) into my creative life, but still sometimes I wonder if what I have to say/make/create actually matters. I mean, I PREACH that our yearning to write is our calling and that the burning story inside of us is our legacy, but I still sometimes hear the voice in my head that says, “Oh, what does it matter?”
And then something (like the death of a dear one) flicks me on my forehead, and I remember: We ARE our stories. WE ARE OUR STORIES.
What gifts and trials life has delivered and how we metabolize those events–how we make meaning of them–IS the legacy we have to leave. Whether we leave our stories in the form of fiction or non-fiction, the stories that are ALIVE in us, will be ALIVE in the world only if we capture them and offer them to that world.
Sometimes, on a bad day, I forget how much I believe that we create our lived experience together through our told stories.
Loss can shake us up and ask us to remember what we know we believe. A wise counselor once told me: “Don’t doubt in the darkness what you knew to be true in the light.”
So… I’m proclaiming… even on a dark day…
I believe in story.
I believe we NEED each other’s stories to make sense of this complicated existence.
I believe in YOUR story.
My friends, write your stories! Write!!!
If we can help you, we are here!!! Together is better than alone.