Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Processing


Dorothy Parker may have written to have written, but I write to process information.

At least that's one of the reasons. When I started blogging 18 months ago, it was to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper. The ideas, I thought, could do less harm there. I also enjoy the craft of writing - of stringing words and sentences together. Rearranging them so that sentences fit into sentences, into paragraphs, into a seamless, smooth surface. What I discovered along the way of 100 or so posts is that writing is also how I process information. It's how I digest what's been said, and figure out in my brain what it means to me, and how I'll deal with it. Even when what I'm presenting seems straightforward, it's never about reporting information to me; it's always about processing.

Which brings me to Monday night's post. I had the hardest time writing it because it was just information, and it was just information because I didn't know how to process what I heard. It was good news - scans looked great; bloodwork looked great. If we were to do PET/CT which isn't always necessary, we'd likely find No Evidence of Disease. It was good news!  But I was blocked. And the more I was blocked, the less I could process; the less I could process, the more I was blocked.

Dog chase tail. 

Then to confound things, my inability to write - to celebrate through words, to celebrate with this small handful of people who have been my crutch and my support, well that just pissed me off. And then, because I couldn't write about that -- about the fact that I was angry and frustrated that I couldn't use my writing to process it -- well that just made me question whether I should be celebrating. That's just crazy. My inability to write started to affect how I felt.

Dog chase tail.

I wouldn't be the first person to say that as lousy as cancer is, it brings blessings in disguise. A fellow blogger uses that very title in her blog. To me, the blessing has never been about appreciating moments more, I've always been grateful for the life I lead, even if I might be just a bit more aware of the beauty in the mundane these days. To me the two greatest gifts cancer's given me are an ability to do my job better, and a chance to do what I love to do: write.

There are many stories of writers who can trace the seeds of their writing career to their childhood  --to stories written for their elementary school magazine or a teenage writing contest or such. Not me. I had a love and aptitude for numbers as a kid. I was going to be an accountant. Truth. Then somewhere, in college, I think, I started writing. Crappy poems. Amateur short stories. Oddball pieces for fringe magazines and newsletters. But they got me to a point where I was 23 and  sitting by myself on English Beach in Vancouver, B.C., at the end of a day that I don't remember, writing. And  I decided. This is what I should do. 

More than 25 years later, thanks to this blog, I'm writing today more than ever, and like the news I got yesterday, that's a good thing.

--Michael