About five years ago, I started writing a zombie story for my husband. Then, I suppose, like with many things, I lost interest. I revisited the story recently. I had forgotten most of what I wrote, so I was reading it with fresh eyes. As I read it, I was scared and on the edge of my seat, and forgot that I was reading something I had written. This is pretty good, I thought, why did I let it go? And then I was disappointed in myself for stalling out. Since beginning to write that zombie story five years ago (the story had probably been on my mind for much longer), I have seen an explosion in zombie books, movies, stories, and now a TV show. Some are great, some are crap. All of them make me feel like I don’t want to write just another zombie story. But I write it anyway.
One night I realized that I write the zombie story to avoid writing about what I really should be writing about: the myriad of dark repercussions that came from my sister’s suicide. Actually, the writing part is pretty therapeutic. It is the editing that hurts me. It is very hard for me to edit all the things I’ve written about her and me and that time and now and feelings without getting choked up and weary. Yet the actual doing is not nearly as bad as the not doing. It’s the anguish of procrastination and avoidance.
I am great at finding excuses and reasons to avoid the editing. Not enough time, too emotionally draining, I need a break, and then that break stretches from a day to weeks to months, and the next thing I know I haven’t worked on it in a long time, then, suddenly, I am sucked in because things happen and they pull me back in.
I am lured here.
A dark figure lurking in the murky shadows crooks a bony finger at me to join him and explore the depths. What’s funny is once we get to exploring, what we uncover and dig up and discover is then thrust up toward the light, like a deep sea fish forced into the brightness, exposed. You wouldn’t expect a dark, lurking figure to support bringing things into the light, but he does.
Sometimes that’s what it feels like to write. Like I am a deep sea fish forced to surface. As the comforting, dark pressure of the depths is lightened, things begin to leak. Memories ooze.
I am curious. What do things look like in the light? Are they less scary? Less menacing? Are they actually pretty harmless when they are confronted?
And now here they are: buoys of memories and thoughts and ideas and connections floating around on the water, and I scoop them up and put them down on paper and that is ok. But going back to read what I wrote causes an ache at the back of my throat and I think, hmm, maybe I should work on that zombie story, because scaring myself with zombies is much better than scaring myself with real life.
If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline