As writers, we are sometimes called to write things a little more difficult than we’re used to doing. We have to go outside our comfort zone and find something deeper within ourselves. We have to challenge ourselves to write that one thing we didn’t think we could. I recently had to cross that line.
On November 3rd, 2018, I was almost 6000 words deep into my entry for NaNoWriMo. I had a plan, I was going to finish this year. I was going to get that story out of my head and create the first draft of my novel. Then my phone rang and I got the phone call no child wants to hear. My mother had passed away. I shut my computer, told my husband and headed out the door.
After a couple days of getting affairs in order, it dawned on me that I was going to have to write my mother’s obituary. I’ve written everything from SEO articles to poems and short stories. But this was different. I had to tell the world about the woman I’d known for 50 years in as short a space as possible. I had to sum up her entire life in only a few lines. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write.
I spent the whole night working on my mother’s shortened life story. I wrote from two different perspectives. I was the daughter trying to honor her mother, while also a writer who wanted to make sure her facts were straight. Once I was sure the piece was done, I shut off my computer and walked away. My duties as a daughter were more important and the writer in me just faded into the background. I haven’t touched my computer since that night, until now.
No matter how difficult I’d found it to write my mother’s obituary, I didn’t want it to be the last thing I’d ever write. I have to use it as a tool to grow as a writer. A lesson in conveying emotion that others can feel. A guide in portraying another person in such a way that brings them to life. A method in keeping memories alive.
Though I pray you never have to write such a piece, I do hope you’ll take that challenge that’s outside your comfort zone. Make it your priority. Push yourself to a place you didn’t think you had in you. No matter the outcome, there will be a lesson to be learned.