Sunday, September 30, 2007

Writing Life

Like it or not, a person is defined by their labels. Even the self-chosen labels, feminist, wife, lover, mother, sister, daughter, friend, student, co-worker, boss, employ--define us. We are never just a person. One of the big important labels is our job, paid or not. Though paid carries a lot more weight in this material world. We are, to a large extent, what we do.

Along with the death of a spouse comes the loss of a whole slew of labels. I find myself in virgin territory with unparalleled freedom and acute loss of identity. The writer label is still too new and self-imposed to feel important or all defining. For the past four years, writing has been my avocation, and my escape.

I still write everyday, working at my craft like a deaf woodcutter. Waiting for others to hear of my efforts, thus affirming their reality. This is the strange limbo of the sold, but still unpublished writer, clinging to the encouraging words of kindly editor who said nice things about my story. And best of all the magic phrase--I want to offer you a contract for this work.

When I began writing, it was with the goal of developing a second career. After working through a retirement planning exercise, it was obvious that I needed a job, not for income, though extra money is pleasant, but because work was such a huge factor to my sense of self.

At the time my husband received a terminal diagnosis, and through all of procedures, treatments, consultations, and decisions that followed, my role of caretaker and the impact of the inevitable loss of that vital, demanding job was never considered. Even with hindsight, I would make the same choices again.

I believe life is a journey as opposed to a destination. Right now, I’m crawling around after a train wreck, trying to find my luggage, which is a huge problem because I don’t know what it looks like or even if I have any, but if I can find some with my name on it, I'll gather it up, and then move ahead on foot.

Throughout this upheaval, I keep writing, trusting it will keep me moving in the right direction.


Blogger Lori Borrill said...

Very true words. I am one of those people who always let my friends go the moment I got a serious boyfriend. For 20 years, my "friends" have been a few co-workers and all the wives of my husband's friends. It wasn't until writing (after 16 years of marriage) that I started making some of my own friends all over again, people I chose on my own, not those who came to me upon circumstance.

I'm thankful for that.

For 10 years I was "Al's wife" until my son was born. Now I'm "Tommy's mom". It's a joke we repeat, but it's more true than funny.

I have no doubt you will find your luggage, and it might even be filled with some very nice surprises. Through all the struggle of dealing with a loss, I have to believe somewhere in all of it, something new and refreshing ultimately surfaces. It just takes a while.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Evanne said...

Wife and mother are time and identity consuming roles. I've always had a professional identity too, but the writer part feels vague. I spend lots of time at it--but it still lacks the paycheck type job identity thing, if that sentence even makes sense. LOL I needs readers to make me a real writer (or so I believe). When David needed more care, I quit the day job and while those people are still part of my life--they are a much smaller and more distant part than when I worked there everyday.

Despite my efforts over the years to maintain some indepence--I find big holes in my own identity.

Perhaps the lost luggage wasn't the right analogy, I may have need to refashion my ideas of self.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Karen Erickson said...

I'm so thankful for my writing in helping me create another idenity for myself, much like Lori said. I worked, I got married, had a child, got divorced, got married again, had two more children and then quit my job.

I felt very lost for a while just being a stay at home mom. I wanted more but I also wanted to be there for my children. Thank goodness for writing.

You'll find yourself again, Evanne. Your writing and your writing community will give you strength. You don't need readers to be an author (though they are nice, I'm not gonna lie) - you already ARE an author. Believe in that. I do. :)

11:21 AM  
Blogger Evanne said...

Thank you Karen for sharing your optimism. Mine comes and goes these days. I thought I was better prepared. But there are many unexpected challenges. For example--a couple months ago I would've said (if asked) that I love to cook.

Now, I'm not so sure--perhaps cooking was all tied up with wife and mom and nurturing I make an effort to keep healthy easy things on hand, and consciously eat protein, fiber, fresh produce etc.. But have little interest in meal preparation or planning. Good for my shape, because I'm still very round and cuddly, but the lack of interest is very weird!

7:06 PM  

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