Is Your Writing As Important As You Think?

'Be someone for somebody' - J Shroeder 

Since May, my father has been fighting for his life. Part of me wanted to abandon social networks. Part of me wanted to abandon friends. Part of me wanted to abandon writing. But I didn't.


Because others hadn't. I had watched one friend write through the death of her mother, and another through the death of their father. I had watched friends write through illnesses and catastrophes. They didn't go away because things got tough. They kept writing, because it was important.

How Important Is Your Writing?

Very. It turns out that it's important for reasons that are not immediately clear. The part of us as writers that wants to throw in the towel when 'bigger' stuff happens, is the part of us that judges our own work. We forget that others are ALREADY invested in it, whether we've sold it or not.

When I was struggling to pay for heat last year, one thing kept me writing. Obviously, the people who said they wanted to buy my books were a huge motivator but even more so were the aspiring writers who wrote to me saying:
PLEASE keep writing. I watch what you go through and it gives me faith that I can succeed. If you give up, I will give up.
I got loads of emails like that. Even more surprisingly, I got loads of emails like this:
PLEASE keep writing. I am [poor/losing a family member/suffering from a chronic illness, etc, etc] and I don't know how to go on. Watching you handling all this stuff gives me faith that I can too. If you give up, I will give up.
Now... obviously the responsibility for a person's happiness and choices lies with that person, and threatening writers with emotional blackmail is not a good thing, but the point is that you have no idea who you are touching, or how, or why. 

The idea of the hermit writer is fine if you are one. We are not. Even if you never leave your house physically, you do so in spirit and mind every time you connect to the web. Other people use you as a point of reference for their own lives. 

To put it another way... if you have been blogging, or on social networks, consistently for more than a few months, you are a landmark. You may be a little well in a village, or you may be the Statue of Liberty or Big Ben. It doesn't matter how big you are as a landmark. If you are a point of reference for someone, you will be missed in ways that have nothing to do with your own personal world if you disappear.

If other people are important to you, and you have become important to them through writing, then your writing is important. It's not as important as YOU think. It is as important as THEY think. With all its imperfections, grammatical tensions, and flaws, it is an expression of the human condition. Whatever life brings, and however insignificant you feel, keep sharing your writing. You never know who you are helping. 

In the spirit of sharing... after nearly half a year of operations, a coma, and all sorts of life-and-death drama, Dad came home yesterday. In an hour, I will see him, aneurysm-free for the first time in years. Before I went to see him, I had to write about it and share it with you. It was important.



Please Pray. Dad Just Rushed into Operating Theatre

Dad was recovering well, but things suddenly changed. He's been rushed into the operating theatre for an emergency operation. PLEASE pray and/or send positive thoughts.

Thank you.



How to Handle Trauma

Thank you to all those of you who've been praying for my dad. It isn't easy to cope when someone you love is in a coma, or not able to communicate with you. I've been through this with a friend before, and it's very stressful. That said, I've also been in a coma myself so I know that however stressful it is for me - or the family, or Dad's friends - it is way more stressful for him.

Rather than just feel sorry for myself (which helps nobody), I thought I'd try to be honest about this experience while I'm going through it, so that I can try to help anyone else going through something similar. Dad would expect me to do something like this, and I can't let him down. 

If you're going through trauma...

  1. Keep going. Breaking down is not an option when other people depend on you. As long as there is hope, there is work to do. Be honest and practical about what Covey calls your 'circle of influence'. What CAN you do? 
    • I can ask people to pray. 
    • On occasion, I am allowed to see my dad. 
    • I can look after my mum. 
    • I can take care of myself so that I'm strong enough to be there for my dad.
  2. Expect nothing. When my brother died, people who'd been there for me all my life disappeared. My best friend never contacted me again. Expect nothing of the people around you. It's not about you. They have their own issues. Many people talk up a good game when it comes to supporting others, but flake out the moment you need them. My brother used to like the expression 'friends are like parachutes. If they are not there for you the first time you need them, chances are you won't be needing them again.' Even family members can sometimes fall into this category. Don't get involved with it. You have enough on your plate.
  3. Wonderful things can happen. Miracles can, and do, happen. There are other good things that happen too, though. The flip side of point '2'. Some of the people you least expect to be there for you, will be there. I can't overstate how supportive some of my Twitter friends have been. Some have been more supportive than 'real world' friends or, even, family. 
I hope this helps someone. There's loads more I could probably put, but I've got to rush off and see Dad. Keep saying prayers and sending positive messages.




† Please Pray For My Dad. Thanks.

By chance, during an unrelated scan, my father was found to have an aortic aneurysm. We were told in May that there was a one in four chance he could die any day. I can't imagine how terrifying this period of time has been for my dad. The surgery to fix this problem was life-threatening but necessary.

He went through the operation, only to wake from the anaesthetic and be told they'd done nothing. A huge, painful scar showed the ordeal of the operation, but the aneurysm was still in place. It was in an awkward position, and he would need treatment elsewhere - if a doctor could be found who was willing to take on the surgery.

We waited. Eventually, a wonderful doctor stepped forward. Dad was making a good recovery from the first operation when we heard he would now go in for another. Dad was adamant that the operation should go ahead as soon as possible. A few days ago, it did.

The last couple of days have been very difficult. The operation took over eleven hours. He has been in an induced coma since then. There was a point when we thought he would have a leg amputated, but that has not happened. Yesterday, he came out of the coma but was not able to speak. He's now been sedated again. We can't communicate with him, and we don't know how he feels or what the effects of the operation have been on him. 

During the last operation, so many people online prayed for my dad and when I told him of this, it meant so much to him. He can't tell me anything at the moment, but I know it would mean a lot to him if my online friends prayed for him again. Please tell people at your churches, and ask them to share his story and pray. If you are not a religious person, please keep him in your thoughts, and think positively about his recovery.

Thank you.




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Margaret Atwood

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