Impositions on Writing

An imposition  is anything that keeps you from doing what you wish to do.  Usually, governments level impositions against individuals. Some impositions are good, such as laws against violent crimes.

Besides governments, groups of people can inflict impositions against people.  But where writing is concerned, it’s often the writer who inflicts impositions against herself or himself.

How do we do that?  Mostly, we get afraid.  We doubt ourselves.  We doubt our ability to succeed at writing.  We doubt the willingness of others to read our writings.  But we inflict other impositions on ourselves, too.  We let our egos get the better of us and we think that whatever we create others will what to read.  We let our work be about us rather than about the reader.  What we make, what stories we tell, we do it for the reader, not just for ourselves.

To be a good writer you have to be a good storyteller.  Writer Louis L’ Amour once said that he wanted people to think of him as a story teller.  Director John Ford once said that he wasn’t interested in political causes, that he was interested in good storytelling.  That was his goal, to be a good storyteller.  And just like Louis L’ Amour, John Ford was a good storyteller.

But what holds us back from being good storytellers?  Well, you may not know the subject you want to write about very well.  You may not care about your readers.  You might pick a genre you know nothing about.  Or your emotions might get in your way.

That last item is my problem, my imposition.

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about how writing can function as therapy.  But sometimes the challenges are too overwhelming.

Just a couple of years ago, my wife and I used to go out on Wednesday evenings, or even Sundays after church, with a large group of friends.  On Wednesdays, we’d get coffee or ice cream, sometimes even yogurt.  But our group has disappeared.  Now it is my wife and me, with maybe one of my sisters or my wife’s sister along.  Where we used to have almost too many people, now we have almost none.

Things change, people change.  People move away.  People die.

This has been a very difficult year for me.  It started last year when one of my friends disappeared.  We were good friends, close friends.  He disappeared and for months and months I couldn’t find out anything about him.  He wasn’t a crook or a secret agent or anything like that.  Nor was he an alcoholic or drug user.  He was just a regular guy.  And after six or so months, he showed up again.

He had been betrayed by his company.  He had been a good, solid worker.  He had become a regional manager and was good at it.  But what they did and why, I don’t know.  I only know that they fired him after claiming he had broken some laws.  Only they didn’t prosecute him for anything.  They just fired him.

He was on vacation with wife.  And they dumped him.  Worst of all is he’s different now.  He’s bitter now and more aggressive.  He’s still the same guy I knew.  But he’s different.  Driven.  And I don’t know if it’s in a good thing or not.

We’ve had lunch together twice in the last several months.  We used to get together every few weeks.

Then a couple of my friends passed on.  After that, some good friends moved away.  How good?  They felt like family to me.  Now, some other good friends are thinking of moving to Australia.  These friends are also like family.

Then I lost a brother-in-law of mine.  It took me thirteen years to win his friendship, for him to see that I was a good man and worthy of his respect.  You see, in-laws don’t always see each as worthy.  Our friendship after that grew stronger.  He was a good friend, a close friend, as good a brother as my genetic brother is.  And I miss him terribly.

A few months later, my mother passed on.  We had issues, but I was working on friendship with her.  She had trouble seeing me as more than just her son.  But I hoped we could have a better friendship.

And now my oldest daughter is moving away.  She’s been hired as a college professor 1800 miles away.  Winning over her friendship has been the hardest task of all.  She’s intelligent, very much so.  She’s loyal.  She’s funny.  She has a smile that lights up any room.  And she has a kind and giving nature.  Yet at the same time, she usually sees me as an interloper and an infringement on her time and life.  When I approach her, I have to be careful not to offend her.  It’s like approaching a mine field.  How and where do you step and not get injured?

I’ve worked hard to be her friend, to be the kind of friend she would like to have.  She treats her friends far better than me.  But I still love her.  How can I not?  She’s my daughter.

Five years ago, after working hard at a friendship with her, when things were just going well, she quite her job and accepted an internship at her college she graduated from.  She went away my friend, but did not come back my friend.

Now, it’s all happening again.  Regardless of what any philosopher says, life is meant to be lived.  It should not be a war.  And yet, this year, it’s been a war.  A war on me, on my happiness.

I feel a lot of anger and loss over the deaths of my brother-in-law and my mother.  It’s almost too much to bear.  And now, in a few months, my daughter will be gone, too.  Oh, I know, it’s how our society and the world works.  Children leave home and build their own lives.  And I’m going to be strong for her.  I support her desire for a better life and for better employment one hundred percent.  And I’ll see a couple times a year.

But will it be like five years ago?  Will she be so caught up in her new job and new that when she visits or I visit we won’t be friends any more?  How can bear this again?  How?

This is a year of heart break for me.   The fact that I wrote this post helps me a lot.  But I don’t want any sympathy.  I just wanted to tell my story.

Storytelling is what writing is all about.  Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, whether it’s journalism or poetry, it has to come from the heart.  Even if it hurts.

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