Sunday, November 19, 2017

Not What You Planned

July 21, 2011 by Jane Ross  
Filed under Blog, Writing Practice

There’s an urgency to your writing, knowing friends are anxious to read your disaster reports. It’s not what you planned, but you’re writing…

You have sabbatical year ahead of you with ample time for writing. You’ve found the perfect place to stay on a quiet street, with a writing table near an upper-story window overlooking a Japanese maple tree. You’ve settled into a routine of writing in the mornings.

Hisstoric neo-Gothic buildings were hard hit by the earthquake

Historic neo-Gothic buildings were hard hit by the earthquake

Then the unexpected hits in the form of an earthquake that shatters the city. Power is out. Water too. Roads are awash in silt or torn apart by cracks and potholes. Across town, people are dead or dying. Homes are ruined. Familiar landmarks are destroyed.

You struggle to find ways to help, ways to make the effort of getting up in the morning mean something. You battle the recurring anxiety of frequent aftershocks.

Services are restored to your neighborhood, which came through mostly unscathed. Power is back. The internet too. Friends from far away want to know if you’re alright, want news. You turn to Facebook, posting daily updates on what you’re doing, what you’ve seen. It helps. You feel an urgency to the writing, knowing there are friends and family members anxious to read your report. You are writing but it’s not what you planned. Because what you planned seems too far from the day to day gritty reality of what-needs-to-be-done-right-now. Your writing, for now, needs to stay in the moment.

This was the first few months of our sabbatical year. On February 22, a devastating earthquake destroyed the center and eastern suburbs of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

It isn’t what I’d planned, but what I’m forced to do now is this: to search for the lessons — life lessons, and lessons on story and healing — in the aftermath of the quake.

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