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.