This week, author Samantha Hoffman shares her insights on grieving, writing, and inspiration.
Life events often provide inspiration for our writing. The year after my father died is the jumping off point for my novel What More Could You Wish For.
My father was my biggest fan and greatest supporter. He told me I could do whatever I put my mind to and he taught me to finish what I started, so I know how proud he would be that I never gave up on my dream of being a published writer. And here I am, a debut author when I’m old enough to be a grandmother.
When I was fifty my father was nearly ninety, still vital and healthy. But one day when I went to see him he’d been having hallucinations during the night – he said men had come into his room and wrote all over the walls. There was no writing, of course, and I feared he’d had a stroke so I took him to the emergency room. While we waited for the doctor I took his hand and said, “Daddy, do you know how much I love you?” and he said, “However much that is, honey, I love you a hundred times more.”
He died less than a month later, shortly after his 90th birthday. I know how lucky I am to have had him for so long but it just wasn’t long enough. It never is, is it? It was hard to fathom a world without my dad in it.
Ask any psychologist and they will tell you not to make major life decisions for at least a year after a loss or trauma. Well, I’m the poster child for what not to do when you’re grieving: I sold my house, quit my job, moved, and got married. I married a friend, someone I had known for about ten years and someone I loved dearly, though I had never been in love with him. But after losing my father it seemed like the right thing to do and so we were married within the year on my father’s birthday. It doesn’t take Freud to understand what was going on there but I didn’t see it then. I probably don’t have to explain how that marriage turned out. When it ended, I regretted deeply how much I hurt my husband.
Writing is a way to entertain, which is no small accomplishment, but it’s also an opportunity to imagine life events with an altered outcome, to create a story with a different perspective and perhaps to resonate with someone in a similar situation. Sometimes we wish there was a replay button in life. Well, writing is sort of that replay button.
Our lives inspire our writing – our writing inspires our life.
Samantha Hoffman is a writer, runner, reader, film buff, tech geek, blogging queen, personal assistant, chef, wine enthusiast, and volunteer. Her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul, The Corner Magazine (London), and numerous other print and online publications. Her novel, What More Could You Wish For, was released by St. Martin’s Press in 2012. You can find out more about Samantha at www.samanthahoffman.com.