This publication is the exclusive property of cj Schlottman, and is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this blog may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, cj Schlottman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Zona Rosa Exorcise


As I have mentioned before, I attend a writer’s workshop in Savannah, Georgia, that has been ongoing for more than 26 years.  We meet (usually) on the first Saturday of every month, except August, when Rosemary is on sabbatical.  I joined in 1996, and over the years my attendance has been spotty from time to time for a variety reasons with which I will not bore you. The group is called Zona Rosa, and it is the brain child of Rosemary Daniell, a wonderful writer and teacher.  You can find out about Rosemary, her books, and the group by visiting http://www.myzonarosa.com/.  Please stop by and see for yourself.  

Anyway, each month, Rosemary assigns us what she calls “exorcises,”  short essays that make us think.  There are always several from which to choose, and some of us, and we know who we are, make up our own, like the time at one of our retreats on Tybee Island, I wrote a note to every man I ever slept with.  In the notes, I told them why I did it, and I gave them a rating.  It was very cleansing for me, and I recommend it to any woman - or man.

Here are some of the latest exorcises:
*Are women today as happy as they were in the past?
*What are the differences among satisfaction, pleasure and happiness?
*How does weather (or aging or money) affect my writing?

I have decided to make up my own exorcise again this month and write about how Clint’s death has affected my writing.  So, here goes.

Clint was a man of great integrity.  I could leave my journal open on the bed, and he wouldn’t so much as glance at it.  Everything, except my address, has been reshaped by his death.  No corner has gone untouched.

My writing has taken on a life of its own, I think.  My energy for writing was so sapped by Clint’s illness that it very nearly dried up.  I was overwhelmed with responsibility and heartache, with little of me left to be creative.  I have heard it said many times that hard times make for good writing.  Not for me, at least not then.  Today is a different story altogether.

Losing Clint gave me back my energy, and my crippling grief gave me a reason to write.  I almost have survivor’s guilt when I say that, which is absurd on its face, but there is nothing rational about grief or, for that matter, any emotion.  They are what they are.  Period.

Writing about Clint the way I did opened up in me a writer’s heart that I never really believed I had.  Before I lost him, I felt like a fraud, an impostor when I wrote, or tried to write, stories and essays and poems.  Now I am sure of every word I put on the page, even the ones I will later take out or change.  Some of them are just plain shit, but most of them are good, and I proudly claim all of them.

My poems are stronger and more raw, fueled in large part, I believe, by the suffering I have endured at losing The Love of My Life.  It created for me a platform from which to scream and cry and rage.  I could not survive without putting it all out there - all of it.  I cut open my bruised creative veins in public and hemorrhaged words all over anyone who would read them.  

And I am a stronger and more confident woman than at any time in my life.  I have proved to myself that I can survive without Clint, that as much as I want him back, his leaving opened not just doors, but windows from which I could shout my truths, my story.

Even from the Other Side, he gives me strength and courage and self-worth.  No wonder I loved him so madly, that losing him nearly killed me.

No comments: