Illness led to writing

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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OPTIONAL QUESTION: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

MY ANSWER: One major event in my life not only affected my writing. It inspired me to start writing.

I became a writer pretty late in life. By education, I’m a computer programmer. I worked with computers for almost three decades. I’ve also always been a daydreamer. Since I remember myself, I’ve made up stories and played them out in my head, like a one-woman theater, but I never told anyone about my daydreams. They were my secret. I didn’t write anything down.

To tell the truth, I was a bit embarrassed, afraid of ridicule. I was a professional woman, a single mom with two children. I never thought I could be a writer, never confided in anyone about my daydreams, but I couldn’t get rid of the imaginary characters residing in my head, even if I wanted to. I didn’t. They always helped me through rough patches. I escaped into my daydreams and felt happy there, often happier than in my real life.

In 2002, I got seriously ill – cancer. During my long recovery, my daydreams became more persistent. Besides, I had a lot of free time on my hands and not much energy for anything but sitting on a sofa, reading. I always liked to read. Sadly, I couldn’t find many books I liked. Disgusted with the majority of published works that came my way, I decided I could do better than most books. It was incredibly naïve, of course, just proving my complete ignorance, but I guess, cancer made me brave. I decided to turn one of my daydreams into a written story.

From my first paycheck after I returned to work – I know the exact month, Feb 2003 – I bought a dedicated laptop, off limit to my kids, and started writing my first story. I never stopped writing since then, but I had discovered pretty soon after I started that I didn’t know squat about writing. So the learning process had commenced. It’s still going on.

As for how writing affected me – immeasurably. I learned so much since that fateful month, Feb 2003, I can’t even list everything. My writing brought me close to many fascinating people, other writers, and it made me, I hope, a better and wiser person. It aided my perception and deepened my compassion. I like myself much better now than before I started writing. Maybe my heroes’ courage and kindness rubbed off on me… at least a little. I always liked my heroes more than I ever liked myself.

What about you? How did life affect your writing?

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29 Responses to Illness led to writing

  1. Donna Hole says:

    That is an inspirational story. Sometimes something good comes of tragedy. Sometimes I can write through life events, other times not. I too started my writing journey after a job loss.

    Good luck with future endeavors Olga.

  2. That’s amazing. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Happy IWSG day!

    Ronel visiting on Insecure Writer’s Support Group day: Course Correction

  3. spunkonastick says:

    That terrible time in your world led to an amazing new chapter in your life.

  4. I like your story, though cancer sucks. I felt the same way about published works and now just wonder HOW they got published given how difficult getting there is. 😀

  5. Thanks for sharing this deeply personal post. I especially love this: “My writing brought me close to many fascinating people, other writers, and it made me, I hope, a better and wiser person. It aided my perception and deepened my compassion.”
    I wish you happy writing in October.

  6. Your story is so inspirational! I think I always knew there was an artist in me somewhere, dabbled with acting for a time, always knew I wanted to write books someday, and a few years ago, took the plunge! Happy IWSG day, Olga! http://www.raimeygallant.com

  7. Wow! And look at all the books you’ve written since then. That dark moment revealed something really bright in your future.

  8. What an inspiring story. Congrats on all the books written. Happy IWSG.

  9. emaginette says:

    I’m so glad you have a happy ending. 🙂
    Anna from elements of emaginette

  10. Crystal Collier says:

    I’m with you. I was writing the books I wanted to read too, because I couldn’t find them. Funny how that works.

  11. That’s awesome how your experience with cancer inspired you to write and that you kept it up while working.

  12. Erika Beebe says:

    Oh my Olga, what a beautiful post. My heart goes out to you, as a single mom myself with two kids. You have a gift and I hope you continue to fulfill your goals and dreams 🙂

  13. rolandclarke says:

    You are so brave, Olga, battling a chronic illness takes courage and determination – as does getting books out into the world. I’m feeling inspired.

  14. patgarcia says:

    I am so glad that you didn’t shut off the people in your heart and your head. They were trying to point you in the right direction for your new future and the circumstances in your life made you stop and listen. I’m glad you did.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  15. yvettecarol says:

    Wow, I had no idea all that you’d been through. Good on you for writing through it all! 🙂

  16. Diane Burton says:

    OMG, you’ve been through so much yet came out with such a positive attitude. Amazing. Congratulations on surviving so well.

  17. debscarey says:

    I’m feeling a real mix of emotions – admiration, empathy & a determination to emulate your success. Thank you for sharing your inspirational personal story.

  18. An inspiring post! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  19. What a great story. I hope you’re writing a memoir. If so, can’t wait to read it!

    • Olga Godim says:

      No, I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever write memoirs. I’m not brave enough. But I did write a short story about breast cancer. It utilized my own experience, but it was also a magic realism story, with real magic. Or maybe it was an illusion of magic. 🙂
      The story was included in an anthology published several years ago. When I finally force myself out of my writing burnout and publish a collection of my magic realism stories, this story will be included.

  20. Widdershins says:

    When I had my motorcycle accident, waaaaay back in 1983, after being in hospital for 5 weeks, I was in for a year of intense physiotherapy. It was excruciating. More often than not I ended up in tears, even my physio had a sad gleam in her eye on occasions. Thankfully her practice was within walking distance of where I lived at the time in a small nondescript Aussie town. After a few weeks I was able to walk there and back under my own steam, hobble really, first on crutches and then later with a walking cane.

    The little town draped itself around a river, and three times a week, after my physio sessions I would wend my weary and battered way to the river bank, collapse into some sort of sitting position and wait for the pain to leach out of my body into the soft flowing water a few meters below me. I felt like I was slipping away from, I’m not sure what, reality, sanity, and I needed to do something to keep me in the here and now.

    I remember watching a little water-beetle sculling across the almost still water near the shore, held up by the surface tension of the water. I became entranced by the scene and almost fell in the river as I watched it head off to parts unknown. I pulled out my notebook and started describing what I’d seen, and the story grew from there.

    I’d always scribbled down story ideas, and scenes, and bits and pieces, but that moment was when I started writing ‘seriously’, 🙂 as a profession. It took all year, but by the time I was done with physiotherapy, the story was done too. 🙂

  21. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga. Was lovely to learn more about you and your writing journey. I hope that cancer is in permanent remission for starters. How lovely that you were inspired to write by life events! And I’m sure you know a lot more than squat about writing now!

  22. Loni Townsend says:

    Terrible situation you faced, but yay for getting the confidence to move into writing!

  23. Amazing… and beautiful story.
    Thank you for sharing, Olga!

  24. Lahla says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Cancer led me to writing too. It started as therapy, and still has that element, but also became a helpful way to organize and/or communicate my thoughts as I now have a lot of word blockage. It’s nice to connect with people in the blogging community and see what they find helpful. Thanks again for sharing.

  25. ChrysFey says:

    I love how you persevered and just went for it, even while going through your illness. That’s amazing!

  26. That’s awesome and reminds me a little of myself. I’d always had a running narrative going through my brain of both real and imagined things, but in “real life” I was focussed on science and mathematics. I never thought I could be a writer until I did it.

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