How’s This For Awkward Self-Reflection?

Writing has been…weird in the pandemic era. On the one hand, I don’t have a pesky day (night) job to concern myself with, and my wife is working from home so I don’t have to worry about taking her to work. I have a lot more time to tickle the keys. On the other hand…existential terror can sometimes manifest itself as writer’s block. (Who knew?) I spend a lot of time NOT taking naps.

On balance, however, I’ve been getting more done. I’m even finding time to blog. But I’m noticing something and I honestly don’t know whether or not to be concerned about it.

This has been a rough year. This would have been a rough year without COVID-19. It’s been six months now since my little sister swallowed a lethal dose of Tylenol in what I’ve come to believe was a moment of panic and fear.

My sister and I were not close. Her passing did not impact on my day to day life, except to make it harder to call my mother as regularly as I used to. (I would not have expected that, but my mom’s pain opens my own wounds.) We were fundamentally different kinds of people…or rather, we manifested the same traits in radically different ways.

I am not suicidal.

But somehow, suicide has often been the answer for me lately…in my writing. There have been at least two stories of late where I found myself faced…well, if not with writer’s block, then with a flaw in need of fixing…and each time, the solution lay in introducing an element of suicide to the narrative. Two protagonists, with different problems and temperaments, had reached a point where the taking of their own lives seemed the right way out. In both cases, I think the element of suicide solved the problem.

After solving each problem, it dawned on me that this might be me drawing upon what happened with my sister, or worse, that this might be my sister’s moment of desperation finding its way into my head. I won’t say that it scared me…but I won’t say that it DIDN’T scare me, either.

Now, I’m working on a story set in the afterlife. This is me finally tackling a story idea that I had long before my sister took her own life, but I can’t help asking myself, why now? That’s far from the only story idea rattling around my brain.

My mom doesn’t REALLY read a lot of what I write, but what if she reads (or in one case, hopefully watches) this stuff? Will it open (not-so) old wounds for her? If I’m writing for public consumption, am I being irresponsible by apparently working out my issues for all to see? For now, it feels right to keep doing what I’m doing, but I wonder if it’ll still feel that way if and when an audience reacts to it?

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