Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Mortality

This is a little more personal of a blogpost but maybe some of you have experienced or will experience something akin to it. I don't know if it's part of getting older or the things life chucks at me lately but I'm painfully aware of my own mortality right now. There are only a few more decades, really, to be here and to do the things I want to do (if I get to live to a ripe, old age.) And when I look back at the past (and what a whirlwind that seems) I find more regret than joy. I hope this is a passing phase.

The realization that I won't get to do everything I'd like to do, that I probably won't hit certain benchmarks that society sets, and that I might see people dear to me pass on before I do - well, it's sobering.

When I think of writing, if I'm being optimistic, say I get a publishing deal within the next year - how many of my story ideas will actual come to fruition? What will never see the light of day? And if I publish, say, five to ten years from now, the number of possible stories to share dwindles more. I sat down with my story list recently and mercilessly struck out story ideas I didn't care passionately about. It relieved a lot of pressure. Then I thought good and hard about the ones I did feel passionate about, out of those which ones did I think others might enjoy most? Which were more original in their spin than others? Did I want to get stuck writing that series or do more of my standalone ideas?

Because there is that other factor too: life outside of writing. I'm analyzing my goals and dreams there as well. The day to day moments spent with the people I love have more meaning and I'd rather build up memories than possessions. I know of one event that will completely change my life and that is the loss of my husband. He has a life-threatening disease which has already begun to deteriorate his body. If you're reading this blogpost in the morning, I'm at the hospital waiting for him to get out surgery. I know he will go before I do, someday; I've known it since the day we married. I suppose one might get very depressed about it, and to be truthful, I have at times. On the other hand, possessing this knowledge also makes me appreciate him more and the time we spend together.

Health issues have struck me down frequently in the last year, bringing forward the realization that I'm not immortal and that in the back of my mind, in my youth, I did have that attitude. I'm not as quick as I used to be. My body is changing and I've needed to re-evaluate my lifestyle to accommodate the changes.

At times I feel more awake than ever before. Like the past was some kind of blurry dream (with the occasional nightmare.) Knowing one's mortality is both frightening and empowering. What we are, what we have, and what we leave behind, it's something to think long and deeply about.

Have you experienced the mantle of mortality in regards to your writing? What changes did you make because of it?


  1. The past year has been really hard for me with people I know dying, me getting so ill that I couldn't eat or move for awhile, getting kidney stones and other painful problems that make it impossible to function while they are happening.

    I tend to write about death a lot because of it. I write about necromancers and immortal creatures often.

    And it has caused me to try to eat healthier and take care of my body more. This is the only one I have....

  2. It was after a major medical scare that I started to write.

    This makes me wonder whether it's important to wait for 'traditional' publishing to recognize my worth. Getting your work out there is the key. I'll be more accepting of what I have achieved and feel okay with that.

    Hang in there, Clipper. We're here for you if you need us.

  3. Oh, yes. Mortality, my ever-present companion. It breathes down my neck, touches everything I write. Most recent short, just finished, is about just that.

    I had three wonderful parents, none of whom got out of their 40s. Mother, dead at 43, father, dead two years later at 49, step-mother (his wife of one year), dead at 49. I was 12, 14, and 23, respectively. Lived through the AIDS era, many close friends gone too young, too soon.

    A 35-year life-partnership has been my steady ship, but, as you said, even that can't last. Eleven years ago, I had a heart attack. Last year, he had treatment for cancer. The Reaper never lets us forget, and sometimes likes to slug us with reminders.

    How did it affect my writing and goals? I believe it made me both more determined to keep steadily going and less concerned about whether I get there. I finished that novel, knowing it may never be on bookstore shelves. It would be great if it were, but finishing it, really doing it fully, became the goal. Then the short, and another, and a query sent, and another. Some days I feel like I have forever, others, well...

    I think we just put one foot in front of the other, knowing, at any time, everything can change, and consequently notice more the journey itself, the importance of each step taken, each thing done. And still, keep our eyes on the road.

    *And remember to hug each other now and then*