The Friday Muse

The Friday Muse – My Grandmother’s Untimely Death and Why I Write

Fridays are usually the days I end up posting a snippet of any new writing I am working on to fill The Friday Muse segment of this blog. Not today. Today, I want to go in a different direction. Don’t worry, I’ll still be talking about writing, just in a different vein.

Go back with me to 1995. What were you doing? I was a tenth-grader living in Modesto, California. I was surrounded by family and friends, and my adolescent life – I have to admit – was at one of the highest points I can remember. I had been writing fiction for a number of years by this point, and I had just finished my first novel – Mission: Australia.

2016-08-12 06.57.59 (Resized).pngMission: Australia had taken me years to write. It was a compendium, really, of the various short stories I had written throughout my younger years (6th grade and beyond), and served as my first full-length novel that I believed (at the time) would skyrocket me to publishing success.

But 1995 wasn’t so much about the novel than it was about my grandmother. See, she was my biggest fan at the time. She used to read all of my work, and she loved all of it. Yes – I believe a good portion of that validation was because she was my grandmother and I was her grandson. She loved my writing by default. I could have published coffee stains on crumpled notebook paper and she would have gushed about how much she loved what I did.

That aside, her encouragement always fueled me. She read my stories. I wrote more stories. I didn’t write for her, but she read for me. And when I finished Mission: Australia, she read it. Well – most of it. It was in an unfinished state when I handed it to her one day. She read some of it and gushed.

wpid-fote9e5.jpgThen I found out she was struggling with breast cancer. Months later, she passed. The last time I saw my grandmother, she was on her death bed. The cancer had spread through her body and had wiped out a good portion of her memory. Our family stood around her bed. She couldn’t remember most of the faces staring down at her. But she reached out to me and asked if I had finished my novel.

When my grandmother passed, I shoved my writing in a black hole for a number of years and pursued life apart from writing. I graduated high school, tried to survive ‘real-life’, and buried myself in countless relationships and 9-5 jobs.

My grandmother’s death nearly caused the death of my writing.

It was a calling – a stirring – I felt one day many years later that prompted me to dig up those old stories, that old manuscript, and start from where I ended so long before. It hurt because I remembered my grandmother’s support of my writing. But it felt good because I remembered my grandmother’s support of my writing.

Cancer – in its most sinister form – could not consume my grandmother’s memories of my writing. I didn’t just understand my calling when I realized that – I understood the power of my writing. That just because someone liked my writing because they liked everything I did, it didn’t mean that my writing didn’t affect them, or that their support didn’t – doesn’t – affect me.

Your writing is powerful. You may not feel it. You may not ‘know’ it. But it is. Don’t let anything stop you. Don’t let anyone tell you no. Just write. Just share that writing.

How has your writing affected those around you? Do you believe your writing – its content and the act – has power? Tell me how in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

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