Those of you who know me personally realize why I quit writing abruptly after my trilogy, The Wolves of Lise was finished. In October of 2017, when Before Winter was out in ebook but not yet in paperback, my husband died very suddenly of a heart attack. In the months and then years that followed, I found it impossible to write. It seemed that the creative part of me had died, too.
Now that I have put some time and distance between that horrible October night and now, I understand better why my creativity seemed to be gone for such a long time after his death. What has brought this all to mind now was the recent death of Prince Phillip. I dated Dennie for 6 years and we were married for almost 45. I can’t even imagine what Queen Elizabeth is going through without her partner, having been married for 73 years!
I don’t know if you have ever thought of love and marriage as being artistic, but it is. Somehow, when you combine the right two people, you create something more lovely than either of them could ever have been alone. Long years of marriage refine those qualities into something only newlyweds can dream of. My husband’s constant encouragement and interest in my writing was certainly beneficial to me. I hope my cheering him on in his theater work was as rewarding to him. Together we were an unbeatable team. We only had to look at one another to know what the other one was thinking. A squeeze of a hand could mean more than an hour long talk and just a touch on the shoulder meant “I love you” as clearly as though the words were said out loud. Love provides a fertile cradle for creativity and artistry to grow.
Dennie would come home from work and walk upstairs to what used to be my older daughter’s bedroom, where I wrote. “How many words did you write today?” he would ask. “Did you kill anyone off?” And then he’d laugh because he knew I hated writing anyone out of a book. He was there to tell me when it was 2AM and I needed to quit writing and go to sleep. And never once did he object to dinner being late if I was writing. Usually, he would get take-out so I didn’t have to stop to cook.
It was no wonder the cogs and wheels of my brain simply couldn’t tackle storytelling without him. They had probably ground to a resounding stop! I used to say when I had a new idea for a book, that I had to let it “perk” for a while in my brain before I was ready to write anything down. I believe now that part of that process was being able to talk it through with Dennie.
So where does that leave me now? Last year I made several tentative attempts to get back to writing. None were successful, at the time. I sent out two proposals and a couple things to magazines. In January 2021, I hit the new year running. I’ve sent one proposal in, I’m collaborating with an illustrator on a picture book, I have a novel started, and I’m working on a proposal for another series that’s nearly finished.
Is it going to be as easy to write without Dennie? No. Will it be as much fun? No, it won’t be! But Dennie would have wanted me to keep writing and I’m going to do the best I can on my own! And when I am letting things “perk” I truly believe that he’ll still give me a nudge in the right direction every once in a while. That’s another mysterious thing about love. It lives on long after a person has passed away. I will always be waiting for a touch on my shoulder or a squeeze of my hand because love lasts forever.