I want to talk about loss.
The fact is, as a writer, you have to deal with some pretty problematic stuff, sometimes. To make it real, to make it true, you have to think about things in ways that might seem almost clinical – you have to get underneath the clichés and the skin of it all, so that when you write, it comes from a place of honesty and understanding.
And loss – well, it’s pretty easy to fall into the familiar ruts and to parse it all out in the most common of terms. It’s less painful for the writer.
It’s less painful for the reader, too.
But it sells you short, and it robs your work of power, so it sells the reader short, too. You push those easy emotional buttons, and you know what? Maybe you get the reader to cry, a little, but you’ll also get them to forget about it really fast, too.
You have to bring something new to the table, every time.
I want to talk about loss. I want to talk about grief.
When you lose someone/something you love, you grieve.
Hell, when you lose someone/something you hate – you’ll grieve.
You grieve, because you’ve lost someone/something that was important to you. You grieve because your life is a little less.
You grieve because that life has changed its shape.
It doesn’t matter if the loss is from death, or misadventure, or just because that person or thing has decided to let go of you, or you have let go of it.
And I’m not saying your grief is not pure. I’m not saying your grief is selfish.
I’m not saying it’s not real.
It is real.
But after that first tidal wave recedes, you need to know that some of your grief is not for the person or the circumstances or the thing that is now gone.
It’s for you.
Or rather, it is for the you that also died.
Everything you were before is irrevocably changed, and you will never be that person again.
Parts might survive, but they, too, are changed.
And so you need to understand that you mourn as much for the “you” that you have lost, as for the loss itself.
And when you incorporate that into the mix, when you next come to write about loss – even wholly fictional loss – your work will be richer for it, and your reader will understand how much more of a human you and they both are.