One of my favorite prayers is the Kol Nidre used in the Jewish tradition on Yom Kippur. I am not Jewish, but the idea of addressing ones past sins and failings and beginning again in love appeals to me. The idea of beginning again in love takes repentance to a new level. Not only is the person repentant and forgiven, but the person is obligated to start over, not with guilt or shame, but in love.
I believe that I am almost at the point to begin again in love in several ways, most significantly for the purpose of this blog, in my writing. When I first moved out of my house and filed for divorce, I continued to keep my usual writing schedule for a few weeks. Gradually, as the enormity of the changes in my life began to sink in and I began to cope with the necessities of moving forward in my life alone, it became necessary to focus on that. Instead of writing fiction, I did three things: I cried a lot, I wrote in my journal and I slept more than I have done in years. All of that was important to my healing. I needed to cry out my pain. I process things by writing. I processed the entire five year run-up to my divorce by writing fiction. Once I ended my marriage, I switched to journaling exclusively to process my specific feelings. I also slept more because I haven't slept well in years and, frankly, I needed the rest after the emotional catharsis of all that crying and writing.
I've had good days and bad days. (Some really, really bad days.) Fortunately for me, I have had years of experience at crying in my office or in the bathroom in short bursts when no one is looking. I managed not to miss a day of my day job. I managed to take control of my finances and my time. I managed to begin to rebuild some semblance of a relationship with my daughter before she goes away to school. I managed to exercise regularly and even to add reading back into my life. I managed to begin to dream new dreams for my future.
The thing that I gave up over the past couple of months was writing fiction. I had enough drama going on in my real life; I didn't need to create fictional drama. My "writing time" was limited to doing a final edit for several of my early stories and creating covers, publishing them as ebooks on Smashwords. Someday some of those stories may or may not end up in print. In the meantime, they are freely available online to anyone who wants to read them. I'm gratified to say that more than 4000 copies of my stories have been downloaded already.
This past weekend, I found myself alone for the entire three day holiday when my daughter went away for the weekend with friends. I took long walks. I cleaned my house. I cooked meals that would provide my lunches for the coming week. I published the last of my "finished" manuscripts and then turned to the last two. One was a completed second or third draft. The other is an incomplete sequel to the first one. I spent about eight hours on Saturday working over After the Fire. It probably needs one more run through before I can call it "finished".
On Sunday, I turned my attention to the unfinished manuscript, Marathon Nightmare, asking myself if I was ready to start writing fiction again. Truly I don't feel ready to tackle a brand new story yet. That would be too daunting. I worked on Marathon Nightmare for the first time in weeks. I spent several hours reading and editing the first half of the story.
After a two hour walk shortly after daybreak on Sunday, I found myself feeling eager to get home and to tackle the problem of the denouement of the story. I know generally how it's going to end, but I haven't figured out exactly how to get from where I am now to the outcome. Until Sunday, I didn't have the emotional energy to try, but that morning I felt strong and ready to take on the job of finishing the story. When I got home, I actually wrote about half of a new chapter.
I feel as though I'm coming out of a long, dark and terrifying tunnel, into the sunlight of a new world, a world that will throw down challenges and obstacles, to be sure. The difference is that I feel ready to move ahead.
And, best of all, I feel ready to write fiction again.