Life is an emotional journey. If you’ve read my bio, you already know I believe this. But what exactly does that mean?
To me, it means we need to embrace life, feel each moment as we live it.
Some of those emotions are wonderful. Some are painful. But we need to experience the bad times in order to appreciate the good. Right? Otherwise, how would we know the difference?
As an author, I imagine how my characters would feel in each scene—how I would feel in their place. When I write, I hope to bring those emotions to life so the reader can experience the moment along with my characters. Feel the moment.
The emotions I write are real, but the stories are made up. Fiction. In reality, I’m a private person and rarely share details from my personal life.
This week I’m making an exception, because some emotions are too strong to be contained to one aspect of my life. And in this particular case, my personal life has had a major impact on my journey as an author.
Last month I celebrated the release of my debut novel. Things were going as expected. I was getting great reviews, setting up spotlights, trying to make sense of all that crazy marketing stuff, and beginning to set up a team to help promote me and my book.
And, of course, I was back in the writing cave playing with my imaginary friends. (A.K.A. my characters)
Things were going good . . . and then I suddenly disappeared from public view. Why?
I’m sure there are people who thought I couldn’t find my way, couldn’t figure things out and gave up . . . faded into the abyss. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
So what happened? What could possibly be important enough to make me put all my hard work aside?
Real life . . . Family . . . An emotional avalanche.
See, putting one of my characters through fictional hell is pretty easy. Just pick a tragedy, draw on the vast supply of memories I’ve collected over the years to find something similar, then let the pain flow to the page.
Actually living through those rough times in real life? Not so easy.
It’s been almost a month since my brother went into the hospital for a scheduled surgical procedure with the expectation he’d be back home three days later. Things didn’t go as planned. Post-operative complications led to a mistake that has left him fighting for his life, a battle he has yet to win.
His pain is physical. Mine is emotional. But we share the same fear—the realistic possibility that this story may not have a happy ending.
Despite that, I need to stay strong. I am the one my brother leans on. The one comforting him and hoping my words of encouragement are somehow getting through. I am his advocate—the one fighting for his rights and pushing his medical team for solutions. I am the one responsible for decisions about his care and treatment.
By the time I leave the hospital each night, there’s nothing left inside to give to my characters. Spreading the word about my fictional book seems insignificant under the weight of my real-life drama. Thoughts of interacting on social media are unwanted and easily pushed aside.
Back at home, I crawl into bed for another night of prayers and restless sleep.
I hate the situation we’re in—it shouldn’t have happened—but I don’t regret the role I’ve accepted or the sacrifices I’ve made. We all have priorities, and this is mine.
There is one core value I’ve always taken pride in upholding, the one I’ve worked so hard to instill in my sons.
Family first. Nothing is more important.
Whatever the outcome, this will all be stored away in my collection of memories; and one day it will surely fuel a powerful scene or even become the premise of a fictional story. But for now, it is an all-consuming agony. A harsh reality.
A test of my strength and determination.
I may have fallen—or been knocked down—but I’ll get back up. I am a writer, and my (emotional) journey continues. ~CJ
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