Moments of Triumph, with a Side of Gratitude
Make That a Double Side
There is never a good time to be blind-sided with loss, obstacles, or sudden physical or mental adversity, but it can be worse when you don't realize how hard you've been hit. Remember those old movies about Genghis Khan burying his enemies up to their necks in the sands of the Gobi desert, then releasing his warriors to ride through and lop off heads? Yes, I'm thinking that bad.
When I was younger, bad news or roadblocks were a challenge to be overcome. I'd marshal my talents and resources and climb over and through anything that tried to block my path. Because I believed I could. Until my father was in the hospital and I knew he wasn't going to make it. For the first time in my life I tasted the bitterness of ultimate defeat. I didn't know it then, but I'd lost hope.
In the years since that realization, there have been other times I could point to that gave me that same feeling. But there have been more times that I couldn't identify that were stealthy in their defeat, and I ended up in what I call "The Pit." It's difficult to recognize how I've ended up in The Pit, because there's not an "inciting incident" like we find at the beginning of a book.
I know when I'm in The Pit because my friends call. "Are you all right?" "You didn't return my calls." "I'm worried about you." "Did you eat today?" At first I claim busy-ness or forgetfulness. When their concern persists, I begin looking at what's going on. Usually I don't know anything other than I have to admit that I'm not happy—which is far from my usual modus operandi.
I'm grateful to my friends for sticking with me, for caring about me, for helping me. And I'm grateful that I've become stronger and kinder through this process of change. I'm grateful that I've learned how to feel, how to care, how to believe again. I'm grateful to feel loved and seen.
And I'm grateful to be able to share what I've learned through my characters. As writers, I believe we all come to the understanding that our characters carry a part of us within them. Some characters carry more of our baggage than we intended. Those are often the ones readers connect most with, because they are real. In their struggles, in their fears, in their triumphs.
This Thanksgiving in particular, after a year that I wouldn't have believed could be more difficult than the one before, I am grateful to my friends and health workers, to my writing friends and production team, and to my readers for keeping the faith with me. For forgiving my mis-steps. For helping me find hope again.
I love you all.