It’s been three weeks since the previous post, which is an unusually long interval. That’s partly due to being distracted by the headlong rush of work since the end of a long summer break. But I’ve also been finishing the manuscript of a new book.
Writing has been my solace since Chris died: a memoir of her last 18 months; 150 blogs; and 40 or so poems have poured onto the page. I found that as I wrote these stories and verses, I could hold my memories more lightly. I no longer had to cling to them like a drowning man to keep my head above water.
Although I wrote primarily for myself, some of you have kindly said that you’ve also found my writing helpful, which encouraged me to approach a friendly publisher with the idea of a book based on my experience of loss and bereavement. Now the manuscript is ready, I need some “critical friends” to read it and let me know how well it works and what else I need to do before sending it off to the publisher.
I’m hoping that it has something of the immediacy of The Year of Magical Thinking: Joan Didion’s memoir of the year following her husband’s death. Her account helped me to understand how such a bereavement suspends the usual logic that governs our lives. For example, when Didion wrote that, for months after he died, she couldn’t bring herself to throw out her husband’s shoes “because he might need them” it made perfect sense to me.
If my book also provides such moments of insight and recognition then writing it will have been worthwhile. Although each of us must find our own way through this terra incognita, it is comforting to know that we do not voyage alone.