Friday, March 23, 2007

How Writers Sometimes Handle Death...And It Ain't Always Pretty

By Lonnie Cruse

I was on my way home from a book fair in Evansville, IN, last Saturday evening when I learned of a friend's death. It wasn't totally unexpected. She was quite a few years older than me, and lately she'd had a couple of strokes. But I wasn't expecting it to happen right then. (Do we ever?) We'd been close and she was extremely supportive of my writing.

I wasn't particularly adult in dealing with the news, losing it when we finally reached home, tossing suitcases and laundry in various directions in our driveway while screeching at the innocent bystander I'm married to. And I didn't sleep that night.

By the time the funeral was held on Monday, I'd gotten enough of a grip on myself to indulge in a bit of literal graveyard humor after the graveside service ended by jotting down the interesting names I spotted on nearby headstones for future use as character names. And I journaled my feelings about the wonderful person she was. It's what writers do, take most of what hits us between the eyes and put it somehow into writing. Perhaps I'll create a character like her one day. Perhaps I'll use some of those headstone names in a future book. Perhaps I'll meet her again in the hereafter.

Writers deal with life by writing about it. It's how we make sense of the senseless. And stay one step away from whatever drives others insane.

Some people run screaming into the streets when faced with a notebook full of blank, lined pages. Others write down minute details of their lives, page after page. I've recently learned to journal somewhere in the middle, jotting down quick story ideas, questions about a work in progress, personal problems, anything I need to get out of my head and onto paper to deal with. It helps, both in my writing and just living my life. I won't stop missing my friend just because I journaled about her. The tears are still inside. But she's still here, in my journal. In my mind.

What's inside you that needs to come out?


Anonymous said...

Lonnie, that's a lovely story. Thank you for sharing.

Shane Gericke

Lonnie Cruse said...

Hi Shane,

Thanks for stopping by!