Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Saved My Life

Angel amongst the stars
Fear not for us tonight
No matter how hard things are
In the end, we’ll be alright
They’ll be a new way of living
And a new life to love
For all the hell we’ve been given
Comes a freedom from above

I wrote this poem shortly after my mother died. For eighteen months, she battled stage four ovarian cancer that spread to other organs. She was forty-one. This November will mark thirteen years, she's gone. When I sat to scribble down my feelings about her death, the above verse came out. I was fifteen. For the first time in a long time, I had written something that didn't involve hate and frustration, something that didn't tear me up inside, something that wasn't about pain or suffering. It took my mother's death for me to finally write about hope, and life, and love.

Come with me to my field of dreams
Where the trees are the gate
Go past the redwood tree
And a little past the lake
Now, we are almost there
See the flowers
Smell the fresh air
The field of dreams is my wish
Real life is nothing like this

I was only five years old when I wrote this poem. My teacher, concerned by the last line, changed it to "So come with me to perfect bliss".  I let her, but it wasn't what I wanted. Even at five, it wasn't what I believed. My mother, so shocked and proud that I'd written this at such a young age and coupled with my high achievements in school, failed to catch warning signs that would later diagnose me with early onset childhood depression.

When I was caught in the depth of despair, I wrote about the blackness that surrounded me. Through it all, I shoved that pen across paper and stamped out my raging emotions in a real and visceral way. I look back on some of those early writings and shudder at the intensity of it. Yet, somehow, seeing it on paper pulled me through the turmoil.

The poems above are written ten years apart. First from the observations of a child about her world to a teenager trying to make sense of her mother's death. Somehow both convey an emotion I couldn't vocalize at the time.

Writing saved my life. 

As you can see, I didn't start out writing romance or urban fantasy. My first love was in poetry, then morphed into children's literature. Yet, I wound up where I am now. And it no longer surprises me. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy lend itself to the world of darkness. The monsters are truly monsters. Evil is raw, powerful and oh so frightening. Yet, with romance love is the main component of the story, and with fantasy the hero(ine)'s journey trumps all else. No matter how bad things get, no matter how dark or scary, in the end love will win, the hero(ine) will triumph. It may not be "real life" as my five year old self knew even then, but it gives us hope for what could be.

How has literature changed you? What experiences led you to where you are today?

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  1. I can't believe I've never seen those poems by you before! They are so powerful and beautiful!
    This post almost made me cry.

    I think one of the things that brought you and I so close is the recognition of that darkness within each other. I absolutely didn't have experiences that you have had in your life but for whatever reason, I also suffered from bouts of depression as a child and was also always attracted to that darker side of life.
    I started writing when I was very young and I think part of it was that I wasn't a very social child so reading and writing were my "best friends". And I always loved losing myself in stories.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you, sweetie. I couldn't agree more. Sorry I almost made you cry. *hugs*

  2. depression is one of those things you can't understand unless you've been through it. And it comes in all shapes and sizes. You're incredibly strong and brave for sharing your story. And your poems are amazing!

  3. Those poems are amazing. That you made it through shows your strength. Way to go, lady. I am sure your mother would be so proud!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Sabrina. :)

  4. *sniff* These poems are beautiful, Tina. Thank you so much for sharing your story with everyone, for sharing your strength, and for allowing me to not only know of you, but to be able to call you a friend. *hugs*

    1. Oh Melinda, you're going to make me cry. Thank you so much for your comment. I til am proud and happy to call you friend.

  5. Tina, I cannot believe you were writing with such beauty and power at such a young age. I hear an author once say that if we as writers ever healed our wounds, we wouldn't be able to write any more. I'm not sure that's true, but I'm so glad that your writing has been there for you through dark times. Hugs!

    1. Thank you, Susan! I think the quote has some validity to it, but at the same time writing can help us heal. Hugs back! :D

  6. This is such good advice! And it gives me comfort to know another writer who doesn't write systematically same amount of time each day.
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  7. This is such good advice! And it gives me comfort to know another writer who doesn't write systematically same amount of time each day.
    coaching training