Home > Family, Goals, Life, Writing > On life/writing: missing in action

On life/writing: missing in action

Yep, that’s right. Missing in action. Guess that sums it up. Over the last couple of months, I took a nosedive in the creativity department and lost pretty much all my energy for writing. Why? Not sure, but I think it was a couple of things that combined to disengage me from the writing world.

I think it all started when the family gathered together on what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday, which was February 25th (he passed away on November 30th of last year). We’d planned it as a celebration of his life, and I think, at the time, that was what it was and what it felt like. I remember, on the 24th, me, my mom and my sister, were sitting at the kitchen table on the evening before my dad’s birthday, talking and reminiscing about life in general and about my dad in particular. Time passed, memories and tears were shared, and before I knew it, when I glanced at my watch, I saw that it was just a couple of minutes before midnight. When the clock struck twelve, I stopped the conversation and told my mom and sister that it was dad’s birthday. We all smiled, clinked our glasses, and wished him a happy 80th. Afterward, we continued our time of sharing while we sat at the table, then finally, around 3am, went off to bed. It felt good. It felt right. I think my dad would have been happy to see us there, talking, remembering, and celebrating.

I don’t think the real impact of  my dad’s birthday, or even his death, hit me until I returned home. It wasn’t like getting zapped by a lightning bolt, though. It was more a gradual, suffocating despair, like a blanket floating down and covering a bed, that led me into a deep malaise from which I’ve yet to fully recover. Along the way, it managed to sap from me any real zest for life, any sense of wanting to do anything but just manage to get by day to day. And so I did, with each day coming and going, as I tried to make sense of life and sort through thoughts that I just couldn’t get rid of.

I suppose I could have made it through all that well enough, and probably been able to continue creating, putting words to “paper”, hopefully allowing the ideas threatening to paralyze my thinking to escape in some manner, had it not been for what I think was the other essential element leading to my creative demise: deadlines at work.

In my world of software development, much of my time is spent in “normal” work mode. Schedules are set, tasks are worked on and completed as part of an overall goal, and life is good. Good, that is, until the date of a product release approaches. Suddenly, then, all those features that aren’t quite done yet, or those important bugs that must get fixed immediately, or those important customer requests, all become high priority and all must get done NOW. Suddenly, each day is filled with relentless mind-numbing work, where attention to detail is critical, yet hours are few. So days and weeks become longer, with little to no downtime. The end result? A brain so overworked that thoughts much more complex than staring at a DVR recording of the latest episode of such and such are almost unthinkable, and the idea of sitting in front of a computer for even one more minute than necessary is impossible to even conceive. Unless, of course, that time consists of theta wave inducing surfing of the web for nothing in particular.

But now, where am I? Well, I find myself at the end of the recent release cycle craziness and returning to “normal” work mode, which is good. As for the passing of my father, and its effect on me, I think the jury is still out. I’m beginning to feel like I’m emerging from the fog of apathy his death has caused, and I think life is beginning to make sense once again. If it weren’t, and this is reassuring, I most certainly wouldn’t be sitting here at my computer at this hour (8:41pm), typing away at a blog post, which while it isn’t the most creative of activities does at least require some level of interest and energy to produce. So I’m encouraged.

Where does that leave things? For now, I think I’m ready to resume blogging. And I think I’m ready to resume reading blogs and actually participating in the discussion they evoke. And, more importantly, I think I’m ready to get back to working on accomplishing those goals I set for 2013. Inside, I feel a twinge of excitement, a small flicker of desire to create once again. And it feels good. It’s been a while since things have felt good, since I’ve had the time to even think about anything beyond making it through the day and getting work done for my job. In a way, I’d like to think these words, from the seventies song “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, apply to my life:

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright
Sun-Shiny day.

I Can See Clearly Now

Time will tell.


  1. April 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Welcome back, Dave. I was wondering where you went.

    Maybe this break was necessary. It’s tough to work through the emotions associated with a major life-changing event. You may be a different person and a different writer now… one who can bring greater depth to his storytelling.

    • April 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Thanks, Eric. Nice to be missed 🙂

      Yes, I think the time was needed. Things just really threw me in a loop, but I’m feeling better now. I do hope that, if nothing else, this experience does improve my writing. I’m certainly feeling the need to put pen to paper, so to speak. Looking forward to catching up on reading blogs … yours is definitely one of my favorites.

  2. mouthfulofwords
    April 27, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Grief is so painful, and it takes time, and being overworked doesn’t help either, but your Dad is watching over you and your family. It’s nice to have you back. Take care.

    • April 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Kim. It’s been a difficult few months for me. Hadn’t really expected it to be the case, as I figured I’d already dealt with losing my Dad. Apparently that wasn’t the case.

      I think life is beginning to return to normal, and that feels good. Looking forward to catching up on your blog. It’s always a good read.

  3. May 3, 2013 at 5:30 am

    I’m so with you in grief, and the after shock it leaves. I lost two family members on the same day a few weeks ago. We just finished the last of the funerals last weekend. Losing my brother-in-law, Jim, was crushing – losing Little Violet, my niece’s child, was devastating.
    I hope you can find the support you need to continue to heal. I’ve not been blogging much, but have found, ironically, a way to cope through my writing and my on-line writer’s group.
    I don’t mean to turn this around on me – just want to let you know, you aren’t alone, and that you have been missed.
    Welcome back, Dave.

    • May 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Thank you, Sue. It’s been nice hearing from my blogging friends and I’ve appreciated everyone’s support. So sorry to hear about your losses. I can only guess how hard that must be. I hope things are getting better for you.

      • May 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        they are improving – are you writing?
        Hope so.

      • May 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        Writing a little. Been busy with some good stuff (son’s graduation) this week. Heading home now to resume a normal schedule once again. Looking forward to getting back to writing!

      • May 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

        wonderful. I wish you the best.

  4. May 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Dave: Both grief and work can definitely sap you creatively (and in other ways). I’m glad you’re feeling better and getting the spark back.

    • May 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Gwen … Nice to see you stop by. Thankfully, things have been looking up on all fronts. Still behind a bit, though. Been away from home celebrating with my oldest son who just graduated from medical school. Yippee! Heading home tomorrow … And looking forward to it!

      • May 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        Congrats to your son (and you)! Have a good trip back.

  5. May 10, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Let your heart and body dictate what you need to do next, Dave. It was lovely to read of your family’s celebration of your dad’s birthday, and I hope your day job is becoming more manageable … but we only have so much control over that. Take care, Marie

  6. May 14, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you for stopping by, Marie. I think I know where everything is going from here forward, but we’ll see. I definitely feel more motivated but have been lacking time due to a good circumstance (see comment above). I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my family. It was a special time for us and it feels good to have shard it.

  7. June 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Hey Dave, I’ve been trying to find your contact info, but have been unsuccessful, hence this comment. I saw your comment about bookmobiles on http://changeitupediting.com/2013/05/29/a-love-affair-with-words-2/ . I’m the editor of a small magazine, An Eclectic Occasional, and I’m looking for stories, creative non-fiction, poetry, essays, etc. on bookmobiles. Would you be interested in contributing something? It only has to be tangentially about bookmobiles, and could be in any genre, including dark fiction if you want to go that way. Anyways, contact me through my website, http://www.favand.net, if you’re interested.

  8. June 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    The fog, the apathy are normal grief patterns. The settling in of a new life pattern, the soul searching, the introspection. We all go through it in different stages and in different time lengths. Writing will help clear your heart and mind. Excellent post!

    • June 14, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, Robynn. I know you are right. I’m just waiting for it all to feel that way. I’ll get there eventually …

      • June 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm

        Yes, you will. You have already started by writing this blog. May peace blanket your soul now.

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