Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Creativity: Using your own experiences to authenticate your writing

 My last post was about brainstorming with my writer pal Marcy on a novel idea involving dementia and Alzheimer's.  Much of what is going into the book is based on my experience with my mother and my father-in-law who are both suffering from this kind of memory loss.  Every phone call I have with them or chat with my mother-in-law or my sister, who also keeps contact with our mom, is a source of inspiration and information. But it is also disheartening because it will only get worse.

I tell myself that as painful as it is to watch and keep up with the changes they are going through, it is part of life, part of loving someone and part of the truth that must be in what I write. What we experience is our greatest source of originality and authenticity.

I know this book is going to tax me and pull hard at my heart, for every wall my character must climb will echo a difficulty my mother is going through. I have long since given up having those chats with my mom that always left us laughing. For many years I would unload my disappointments through the receiver of my phone, and my mother would be on the other end listening.  But it was never a sad event for I would find myself giggling over those troubles because she brought that out in me.  They were fodder for humor instead of tears or anger when I shared them with her.

But I cannot do that any more. She cannot hold onto the same conversation for more than a couple of minutes. Sometimes she thinks she is talking to my daughter or worse me back when I was in high school.  It is much harder to make her giggle and much harder for me to find the humor in the troubles that come with the changes she is going through.  Nowadays, she is sharing with me her difficulties, and I am the one hoping to bring humor rather than sorrow to her experience.

What life experiences feed your writing and give you hope that you will find peace in the effort?


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