Monday, 18 November 2013

PROJECT: NORMALITY

Hi everyone - happy Monday (which I know sounds like some kind of cruel joke but... we can hope, right?).

Right now the biggest struggle in my life is to try and find some sense of normality. The problem, of course, is that my normality is gone, and it's gone forever. There's a part of it - a part of my life - missing now. A huge, important part. Everything I do, every step I take, is tip-toeing around the edges of that hole, and trying not to fall in. That hole is where my father used to be.

I think it's only when you lose someone who is so important to you that you realise just how much of 'you' is actually made up of 'you and me together'. Bereavement is like that moment in Star Trek or Star Wars where someone screams 'Direct hit! Hull breach!' and you see debris - chunks of the ship, and maybe even crew members - spiralling away into the cold darkness of space, lost forever. That debris is made up of your sense of safety, in-jokes, comfort, silly little routines, the sound of a beloved voice, a familiar smile, a certain smell, happy memories and sad ones. The remaining crew might get the shields back up and save the ship, but that debris is gone. The integrity of the hull is gone. If they make it back to safety they're going to need to weld a whole new bulkhead onto the ship, and fill her up with new control consoles and chairs and carpets, and replacement staff. She will never be the same. Even if she's sound, she'll never be entirely the way she was before.

So I'm struggling to find normality - but in the same way that you might feel helplessly homesick for a home that's fallen into the sea. I can never get back to it. Not really. I have to build a new normality. A bridge across the hole, a new bulkhead, a new 'home'. And a part of me resists that; a part of me wants the hole there, wants to be broken and unsound, because filling the gap with anyone or anything else feels unfair to my father, who deserves to be mourned to the fullest of my ability. To begin to recover would be to begin to let go of him, and that feels like the worst thing in the world.

Not letting go? Well, yesterday I watched Pacific Rim on DVD. It's the sort of thing that my dad and I would have gone to the pictures together to watch, a few years ago, before he got really ill. It's the sort of thing I'd have bought for the two of us to watch together on DVD, after he couldn't go to the pictures anymore. All the way through it, I kept thinking 'I hope there are DVD players in heaven. Dad ought to be watching this'. But when I got to the end of the movie, I still had this gleeful sense of anticipation, and I realised that even though I'd never forgotten that my dad is gone, some part of me was still looking forward to taking it around and watching it with him. That revelation resulted in an hour long crying jag and a really bad headache. Over a silly, glorious film about monsters and giant robots.

Normality. I would like some, please.

Well, that's it for my random ramblings. Onto some actual updates:

I've finished my Akira short story for the Things I'll Never Say anthology and submitted it. It's provisionally entitled 'Storm Clouds Fleeing From the Wind' and although I have no idea if there'll be edits to come, the editor has told me she loves it, so that's good. There's no listing on the Candlewick Press website or on Amazon for the anthology yet, but I'll keep an eye on it and let you know when that goes live.

I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that I was intending to try and do a modified NaNo this year, in honour of my father to finish the final book of The Name of the Blade. There's about 40-50k left to be written, and my dad loved this trilogy and believed in it so much. It seemed like a good thing to attempt (more struggling for normality). But, as usually happens the moment that I mention an interest in NaNo participation, life got in the way. First of all, when I go back from WFC, my mother had a whole pile of things that she needed me to do - forms and phonecalls and all kinds of unpleasant stuff relating to my dad's passing away. This did not put me in a writing mood.

Then, just as I was getting on top of that, I was struck down, quite literally, by either the NaNo-Virus or the well known 'Convention Crud'. I'm not sure which, but it was an absolute lulu of a bug, not quite bad enough to be the flu, but enough that calling it a cold feels like an insult to me. I personified 'death warmed over' for nearly a week, and only just started to feel like myself again this past weekend. A glimpse at the calendar tells me it's now probably too late to try for NaNo in any meaningful way. So... maybe next year.

But that doesn't mean that I don't want to get back to work. So instead of NaNo I've decided to launch Project Finish This Durned Book. Which involves me re-reading the incomplete draft on paper, marking it up with the Red Pen of Doom, revising the Word Doc, and then going on from there. As with InCreWriJul earlier this year, my goal will be to spend about two hours each morning writing like a fevered pen-monkey, and then spending the rest of the day typing those notes up into my first draft. Even on days when I can't find the time or the motivation to do the typing up, I'm hoping I'll be able to manage the scribbling. Writing has always been my sanctuary and my centre, and I know that getting back into the habit will make me feel stronger and more myself.

Even if Project Finish This Durned Book goes swimmingly, I don't think I'm going to manage to get this manuscript ready to submit in time to hit my deadline, which is the end of the year. What I really want to avoid is being so late that it delays the production of the book in any way. I don't want to do that to you guys.

I'm having lunch with my lovely editor next week. Mostly she wants to see how I am, but I'll be talking to her about potential new books, too, because talking about that makes me happy. Once I've seen her reactions (horrified or intrigued? Who knows!) I might be able to start giving you some more solid hints about future stories. We'll see.

Wish me luck with both my projects, Dear Readers - the book one and the normality one. See you, most probably, next week.

11 comments:

Amy Willow said...

Good luck with everything Zoë *hugs* times like this are never easy, but you're being so strong and have so much support. Looking forward to hearing about all your future stories xx

Alex Mullarky said...

I think you're being incredibly strong! I'm looking forward to reading the short story. How much did you love Mako? My favourite line was something like.. 'It is not obedience(?). It is called respect.'

Zoë Marriott said...

Amy: Thanks, hun. I'll do my best to keep working on those stories.

Alex: Thank you. I LOVED Mako. That was a great line. I thought she was one of the best heroines I've seen on screen in years!

Isabel said...

Good luck on all the writing, Zoe! You seem to be dealing with everything incredibly well and I'm sending hugs and support your way every day.

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: Thanks, hun. I don't really have anyone else to compare myself with in terms of coping, but If I can write, I know I'll be OK.

Maureen E said...

It's almost one year since I lost my father, and this post really resonated with me. "but in the same way that you might feel helplessly homesick for a home that's fallen into the sea."--oh, yes. Thank you for putting it into words, though I wish you didn't have to.

Zoë Marriott said...

Maureen: Yeah, it's awful to know someone else is going through it, but at the same time it's good to know that someone understands, right?

Anonymous said...

Dear Zoe,
Although I am an avid reader of your blog, I've never commented before, mostly because I often read on my phone, and it won't let me. But I specially went to the library and got on a computer to comment on this post, because I wanted to say (finally) how incredibly sorry I am for the loss of your father, and how much I am hoping and praying for you to regain some sense of normality. You are a wonderful, lovely, beautimous person, and you write so incredibly well that I feel like, through your blog and your books, I sort of know you, and your sadness is making me sad too. Feel better, Zoe. Your father would be proud of how well you're coping, considering.
Love,
A Faithful Reader

Zoë Marriott said...

Dear Faithful Reader,

Your beautiful comment nearly reduced me to tears. Your kindness and support are all the more extraordinary for being offered to a person you've only ever met through black squiggles on a page or screen. I think my father would be proud that I've managed to make fans like you. Thank you.

Zxx

Krispy said...

Good luck on both of your projects, Zoë! Grief is hard, and I just wanted to say that I think you summed it up so beautifully, so accurately (I totally get that feeling of not wanting to let go because it kind of feels wrong?) in this blog post. I also think it's incredible that you can use a metaphor about ships blowing up in Star Wars and make it so incredibly moving.

Still sending my thoughts and support. (And yay, Pacific Rim and your new stories!) *hugs*

Zoë Marriott said...

Krispy: thank you. I can't really take credit for being some kind of writing genius with that metaphor, though - one of the things about being sad is that everything *seems* sad, even Star Wars :)

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