Friday, June 06, 2008

Fragments of a life

I lost my newfound voice in the mid-nineties. I had just started playing with words, breaking out. My stories gave me a sense of purpose and the ability to put into words the plethora of anxieties that plagued me all the time.

Then I met a man and it all went downhill.

What’s that old saying? Behind every great man there is woman. For me it was: behind every struggling male writer there is a wife suffering from writer’s block.

I found myself a fellow writer. He romanced me with a manuscript, stories that amounted to a love letter. I was hooked.

My ex-husband took his writing extremely seriously. He would spend hours thinking about story structure, crafting sentences, not a word out of place. I admired his dedication, his clarity of purpose, the way he would state "I am a writer" so categorically. I was also damn jealous of him.

I was messy in my writing, like I am with everything else in life. Whenever I got the urge, I would sit down and write feverishly, intuitively, knowing that somehow it would come out right. And for a while it did. But somewhere down the line, I lost it.

Living with my ex and his meticulous writing habits, I started to doubt my ability and question the seriousness of my calling. I was incapable of writing like he did; I was too restless to sit still for hours like he did. And I could not be bothered to construct a structure beforehand.

My stories were always rambling variations on the same topic, my neuroses projected onto thinly veiled alter-egos. Two of these stories wound up being published in an anthology of young writers. By the time the book came out, I had already stopped writing. Ultimately I was trivial, a footnote in the story of my ex's ascent to fame.

Once I concluded I was not real writer material, I concentrated on getting ahead at work, and I left the writing to him. Someone had to keep both feet on the ground.

Thus I drifted onto unfamiliar territory, playing at being a grown-up. Now all I needed was a child to complete the cliché. But try as we might, I could not get pregnant. I am convinced it was lack of love that accounted for our failure to conceive at first. We had been married 5 years, going on 20, and I could not remember a time when I had not been unhappy.

But on a fateful weekend, a window to the past was opened. I can’t remember the particulars, only that we spent the whole weekend inside the house, isolated from the world. We made love for the first time in so long. And I knew that if I ever was going to get pregnant, that would be the time.

When we finally got around to turning the TV on we learned Princess Di had been killed in a car crash while fleeing from overeager paparazzi. I had never cared for Diana before, but her death changed all that. I mourned her as I sat on my bed wrapped in a sweaty bed sheet. Shortly after, news of Mother Teresa’s death reached us. Great, we had to choose such a tragic weekend for our lover’s retreat.


  1. i thoroughly enjoyed the little silce of your life that you shared with us here today... everyones writing habits are different,,, just as writing style differs... when you do venture off,, i enjoy it,, and when you share i enjoy that too.. i think that must say something about the power of your writing.....

  2. Thanks, Paisley. Coming from you, someone whose writing ethic and drive I very much admire, I am honored.

  3. I loved this post and this blog.
    Happy weekend

  4. behind every struggling male writer there is a wife suffering from writer’s block.

    Ive stated this before, but I love the way you write...even when you 'complain' about your days. Its all so REAL. Thats what is so great about it.

    There is forced writing and there is writing that we labor over...

    But I throughly enjoy all of your writing.

    And thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us.

  5. Thank you, Meleah, for your words and for coming along for the ride. I really appreciate it.

  6. Hi Ingrid, I too enjoyed your Slice of Life. I can relate to your feelings of envy over the writing skills of others (although your writing is definitely nothing to be ashamed of). One of things I have enjoyed the most from my Slice of Life Sunday blog is not just reading the stories of my contributing writers, but being fascinated by each of their writing styles. It is an honor to include your slice of life with the others in the Pie Safe.

  7. Thank you, Criket. I did not know the Slice of Life blog until I read Selma's post on jealousy. I am very glad I found it, and plan on participating in the future.

  8. Ingrid, this is a fantastic piece of writing! It's unfinished--you must continue it. (I too remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of Princess Diana's death, and I even now hear my own audible gasp.)

  9. I join the other folks who commented about your post. I enjoyed to honesty of your writing. This is my first time on your site and I will be back.

  10. Thanks, RD. I will try to continue the story in a future post.

    Welcome, Annie. Thank you for your visit and comment.

  11. Thanks to you too, David. Sorry I missed your comment earlier.