Saturday, September 13, 2014
Day 64 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
I’ve found that the relationship between cancer and writing is like the mathematical symbol for infinity: One inevitably leads to the other which leads back to the first.
Writing helped me deal with cancer, and cancer helped me write.
I wrote a post about how writing helped me deal with cancer.
This post shows how cancer helped me write.
I learned to just write.
Every day I gave myself a directive: Just write.
I didn’t allow myself to edit. Editing came later. I just kept the pen moving. Got it all down on paper.
Before cancer I’d start writing and a mean little pixie voice would speak up inside my head. She’d say things like “you suck” or “no one will want to read this” or worst of all, she’d gasp dramatically and whisper, “what would your Grandmother think?”
That snide little pixie won more battles than I care to admit until a bigger bully moved into the neighborhood.
Cancer was like a mafia don protecting his turf. He wouldn’t hesitate to kill me, but I was his to kill, so he wouldn’t let the pixie push me around either.
When I sat down to write, cancer grabbed that mouthy little bitch by the throat and put her to the wall, telling her in no uncertain terms that I had a job to do before he was done with me.
The pixie shut up.
And I got to work.
So I had a goal: Leave something behind.
It was a terrible goal because it was both lofty and vague. I had to narrow it down. What would that something be?
I couldn’t concentrate on fiction. I had no room in my head for made up conflicts when I was living dramatic tension in every moment of my day.
The only thing I seemed capable of writing about was the story I was living.
Fine, I thought, casting a wary eye to the scary mob boss hulking in the corner. Then I’ll write that.
If I have a goal I’m working toward, I work better with a deadline. And cancer gave me one bitch of a deadline.
The way I saw it, all I had was each individual day and I was determined to use it.
Besides, what have did I have to lose?
What to Write
When writing a first draft, I just let go. I wrote what I was afraid to write. I just put things down on the page. I kept the pen moving.
When editing I made myself keep the parts that hurt. Before cancer I probably would have cut those parts.
Now I know those are the parts that make any story worth reading.
I probably have just as many regrets as the next person. More than some, less than others. As far as I knew, I was looking at the end of my life and I wanted to minimize regrets to the extent I could.
I felt like I only had time to tackle one major regret before the clock stopped ticking, and the thing I hated the most was that I hadn’t finished writing something.
Never before had it been so apparent that I didn’t have time to wait until tomorrow. I didn’t have time to avoid doing something because I was afraid of failing. I didn’t have time to sugar coat or gloss over the hard parts because they cut too deeply.
Here’s the thing: Neither does anyone else.
I just happen to see the rules of the game a little more clearly. I guess I can thank cancer for that little gem, too.
So I wrote what was hard to write. I wrote what I was afraid to write. Anything else was a waste of my time.
Silver Lining: I’m not interested in wasting any more time.
I have now. I have today.
What I make of it is up to me.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!