Changes & Challenges

I have several unfinished drafts of blog posts here on Ink-Stained Worlds that I will almost certainly never publish.

Most of them attempt to put into words my feelings regarding the death of my mother and the unusual relationship with grief that I seemed to have developed following her passing.  Alas, I am not as eloquent as I would like, so I will quickly sum up the core of it:

I have not cried for my mother, and I do not expect to, since she died.  I am not upset that she is dead – at all.  I miss her fiercely, and I wish that I could discuss many things with her as once I did, but seeing the literal agony in which she lived the final months of her life, I am grateful for her death, because it has given her peace.

Jennifer Thornby

Jennifer Thornby

Grief counselling has never been something I have gelled with, but in my mother’s case I simply don’t feel the need.  I have closure here – or, at least, as much closure as anyone could wish to have upon the death of their mother.  I said my goodbyes.  She knew that I love her.  She is no longer in pain – and those things, for me, are enough.  Grief is a very personal process and I had a quiet but intense friendship with my mother that grew and deepened in the years leading up to her passing.  I appreciate that time.  I do not wish for more, exactly, because I would not wish more life on her without being able to assure her quality of life, and that was denied to her by her condition.

To wish more life on her simply so that I could talk to her some more would be selfishness of the highest order.  I would wish death upon the worst of Humanity before wishing upon them the ordeal through whish my mother passed – and she was the best human being I have ever met.

This post, as I am so wont to say, isn’t about that.  It’s been bugging me that I haven’t written the above clearly and succinctly, and unlike the former posts (which I wrote with the mindset that I’d maybe put them out there, if I liked the way they turned out), I do fully intend to publish this one.

So.  On to what this post is actually about.

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything coherent.  In fact, it has not been since before my mother’s death that I’ve completed anything of note, let alone anything particularly worth reading.  I wrote a couple of posts for but it’s no longer operational and I don’t believe I saved them anywhere.

The question I’ve been asking myself is this: is it due to my mother’s death that I have stopped writing?

No, I don’t think that it is.  I go through periods of frantic writing and then lack thereof, often for no apparent reason.  One day I’ll cease writing for one final time and, in truth, I don’t know when that day might arrive.  Maybe it already has and I’m kidding myself that I can jump back into the art… but I don’t think that’s true, either.

What is true is that I have experienced a great deal of change in the last few years of my life.

I had a conversation with a friend tonight, one which ran for a little over two and a quarter hours.  Part of it, and only a small part, was the traditional question:

“So what’s new in your life?”

I had no real answer and, not for the first time, reflected upon how I never have an answer.  I am a quiet person for the most part, introspective and unashamedly nerdy, disabled and thoughtful.

As I don’t work I can’t tell any of the many wondrous (but largely unimportant) tales that come with employment alongside other humans.  I socialise mostly via the internet, so while I could speak at length about that, it wouldn’t make much sense to anyone not involved.  I haven’t been writing so I can’t point to a URL or an anthology and say, ‘I did that.’  I am in the same relationship as I’ve been for well over a decade, easily the most stable in which I’ve had the pleasure to be involved.  I’ve been watching some interestng shows but since I tend to get around to them six months to several years after everyone else, I rarely have anything new to add to that conversation… and I don’t seem to read for pleasure any more at all.

And yet, and yet.

Have I changed?  Yes.  In small ways, vitally and ferociously important to me, utterly unimportant to anyone else.  I could list them here, and perhaps one day I will, but for now I don’t see the point; they are too small (and yet some of them crucially fundamental) to be of any real interest to other people, at this point in my life, at any rate.

Part of it is a result of something that is not new at all, which is my introspective nature.  Self-analysis is something I do very regularly, both in a healthy and an unhealthy manner (depending on the topic and the day).  A realisation is growing within of who I am, what I want to achieve, what I’d like to leave behind once my allotment of time in this life is complete.

Now we come to the ‘challenges’ part, dear reader.

Ms Jamie Clayton as Nomi Marks

Ms Jamie Clayton as Nomi Marks

I’ve been watching Sense8 recently, the hit Netflix series by the Wachowskis, and while I’m late to the party (as always) and have (predictably) fallen in love with most of the main characters, it’s left me with many, many questions that have nothing to do with the series or even the subjects that it raises.

Oh, believe me, it’s left me with plenty of on-topic questions as well, and I’m not even finished with Season 2 yet.  And I have to say that I don’t agree with everything the show had to say, but the point is less whether one agrees and more, I feel, whether it prompts one to question oneself.  But this isn’t about that.  As important as those questions are – identity, difference, connection and so on – there is one gift the Wachowskis have given me which is, to my immediate position, far more pressing.

What do I want to use my writing for?

Herein lies the challenge: I have never truly considered what message (or messages) I wish to portray, and am having some trouble determining not only what I want to say, but how exactly it should be said.  I have often included messages in my writing either subconsciously or haphazardly, and I have often included matters and issues in my works, but I haven’t ever started with a message and worked out from there.  Some of my most stand-out writing has resulted from an idea for a scene that I had while shopping, or something I’ve thought of in the shower.

What do I want to say?  What do I feel is important?  Should I concoct a story that shares multiple messages or concentrates on one?  How cloaked in metaphor should it be, to avoid becoming heavy-handed but at the same time make reasonably sure that the meaning is taken?

These are all questions I have asked myself before, but not in such detail or with such determination to find answers – and that is perhaps, from the perspective of my creative life at least, the biggest change of late.

Sadly, I’m not sure I yet have the answers.

But that won’t stop me trying to find them.