Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing About a Parent Part II

One of my friends posted here and several cyber-friends e-mailed to ask how the service for my father went, and was I eventually able to come up with something. The answer is, it was a lovely service and, yes, I was able to come up with something. More interesting, though, was that everyone who spoke said they ran into the same problem––my sister, my cousins, uncles, family friends, and especially my daughter. How do you boil a relationship down?

In the end, though difficult, I probably had an easier time than the others because, as a writer and editor, I am used to weeding through my tangents to find the cohesive theme and then approaching it from a different angle. I realized it was right there in front of me the whole time in the form of a thought that passed through my mind when I opened the cardboard box of documents I'd been holding in my safe: wills (Mom's and Dad's), cemetery deeds, military discharge papers, insurance policies.

I will post it here sometime this week. Right now, though, I am suffering from a lack of writing time that, much like going without exercise, has me clenching my teeth and losing my normally even temper. After a month of running back and forth to hospitals and nursing homes, talking to doctors and social workers, followed by a week and a half of funeral planning and entertaining visiting relatives, and now calling about pensions and life insurance, it's been a long time since I've had a chance to write anything creative or even review submissions for Sotto Voce.

I've written before about my difficulties with word recall. Like my abs, my recall muscle grows even flabbier with lack of use. In a day or two I'll be referring to that thing you open when you want to get outside or that animal that goes "woof." Okay, maybe I'm not that bad, but I do have difficulty finding the precise word I want, even when speaking.

Interestingly in this week's Writing World.com newsletter are replies to the editor's inquiry about using writing as therapy. That doesn't work for me. When I write about a problem I'm too involved with, whether fiction or creative nonfiction, it tends to sound whiney. Then again, that doesn't stop some writers (or even keep them from getting published) Re-o-o-w. I am still flirting with an idea for an op-ed. Only, again, the difficulty will be boiling it down, since I have enough venom toward the current healthcare system to fill volumes,and I'm not a fast enough writer nor do I have the connections to get it out while it is still relevant.

Sometimes I find the best thing to do is go with the flow. I won't struggle to write while distracted, but I will hurry to get everything done by mid-summer–-I always write best in the summer––and then immerse myself in my writing to the exclusion of all else.

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