“Loneliness feeds on itself like a dark star.” This is sentence is out of character for me, even though my creative work has evolved at SCAD and sounds noticeably different from what I write on the blog. What hasn’t changed is the way my faith influences what I write – a fact that’s increasingly controversial as I begin planning my thesis.
You can probably imagine my colleagues’ curiosity last quarter when I finally showed signs of cracking. Even though I took a break from the blog during my TBI downturn, I didn’t have that flexibility with school: skipping a quarter or dropping a class meant forfeiting future financial aid. Art mimics life, and all I could portray was what I was experiencing each day: loneliness, fear, disappointment. Part of me knew that those feelings wouldn’t last forever, that eventually God would heal like He always did. But that knowledge didn’t overcome my present emotional morass. Brain injuries make it very difficult to think about hypotheticals, including the future. (For those of you who’ve read the blog a long time, you might have noticed that the only time I mention the future is when we’ve made specific plans.)
As I wrote about my current isolation instead of about Ivan and I overcoming past obstacles, I noticed my reviews improved. “So much more believable!” was the general consensus. (Even though I’m specializing in nonfiction, I’m still graded on character development like a novelist.) After a couple of assignments, I realized the isolation pieces were portraying a one-dimensional picture of my current situation; my best solution was to switch to writing about violin for the rest of the quarter. Most students stick to their thesis topic after a certain point in their degree, but I couldn’t keep producing work that suggested my earlier “overcoming” pieces were less than honest.
Nevertheless, as I thought about this quarter’s “believable” pieces, I realized they weren’t entirely dishonest. Loneliness does feed on itself – or at least mine did. The more I dwelt on how no one understood what it was like to be secretly harassed, or how the situation wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I didn’t have a brain injury, or how Ivan should have figured out what was going on even if I couldn’t tell him – the more I dwelt on those things, the lonelier I became.
I don’t know if I will clarify my work this past quarter and remind my colleagues that writing about my accident is more complicated than faking success or admitting defeat. The limitations of distance learning may mean letting this quarter go and trusting my completed thesis will speak for itself. In the meantime, I’ve been reminded that words on a page last longer than notes in a practice room or even a concert hall. Violin used to be my release during crises; now writing has taken its place, even if imperfectly. But unlike old recitals, my words will exist long after I write them. They’ll also impact how others view my past and future work, and ultimately my testimony as a Christian writer.
Thanks for sticking with some heavier posts recently – next time I’ll be sharing some exciting updates we’d originally planned to post in March. 🙂