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Why can’t I get back to writing the book?

While I think my trip was really interesting (saw lots of cool sites, researched a ton and learned much that is relevant to the book I am writing), I am wondering why I am not writing the book itself and spending time on the account of the trip…

I wonder how much grief has to do with it?

Lately, I keep cooking things my grandma liked or that I associate with her. Very deliberate of me, nothing subconscious about it. I mean, I’m not exactly someone who cooks chicken and dumplings on a regular basis!

Grief is strange, isn’t it? Just sometimes it comes out of nowhere, this overwhelming yearning for the lost person. How is it that over a year later the tears well up even now as I type? I feel stupid and weak.

I thought this summer when I followed her family’s migration and went to all of these special family locales that I would feel sad. No way. Great trip. But now, sitting here home alone, everybody else going about their business, I avoid the book as if it doesn’t exist. I clean the kitchen and do laundry and search online for things I don’t buy and stare at the dust gathering on furniture and think, “I’ve got to clean that up.”

This summer I listened to some of the taperecordings I made of the interviews with my grandmother. No problem. No sadness, just very familiar, even comforting.

But thinking of actually opening the file of chapter seven and picking up where I left off, where I left off the week she died, that is, I turn away from the screen.

2 Responses

  1. I’m reading this book right now that has this chapter on grief (It’s that one about fathers, written by that newsguy who used to be on the Today show, who wrote that book called Big Russ and I, or something). It is jam-packed with these stories about people doing things like going to their father’s funeral and actually asking something like “where’s Dad?” I guess I mean that the stories of grief are usually of people who had integrated the bereaved into particular activities, and when they do those activities, they search for the people they were with. Lots of stories about baseball games.

    Did you work on the book in a way that integrated your Grandmother in the writing process? Maybe the key is to change your writing process so much that it is no longer recognizable to you as something that you did with her. Maybe then you can start cranking on it. Maybe, of course, the grief is just another part of the process that you will have to go through. But maybe it is your effort to pick up where you left off, how you were writing back then, that is standing in the way.

  2. Yes, I used to work on the book and then called Grandma and read what I wrote to her. Obviously I can’t just call her up anymore, but a writer I spoke to about this suggested I continue to write for my grandmother as the audience. After all, she may be dead, but she is still a presence in my life in many ways.

    I guess, though, I haven’t figured out what it would mean to write for her still. Writing in some other radically different way seems like a worse option to me. Like an acknowledgment that she is completely gone. And I don’t think I really believe that she is totally absent.

    Perhaps my struggles on this front are actually just normal writer’s block and I need to relax about it. My year sabbatical is not ending tomorrow. I am not going to fritter all of my time away. I am actually doing other stuff with my time, not just hanging around reading trashy novels and watching HGTV ! 🙂 And there are some projects hangng over my head, distracting me right now that I AM trying to clear off my plate.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions and encouragement. I’m gonna keep on working towards my goals.

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