Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is it Okay to Write About That Person Who is Gone?

I'm thinking a lot about my dear friend Natalie today. She died in what was essentially a suicide back in February of 2005, and that loss still brings up a lot of emotions for me, as I can only imagine it does for her mother and sister and boyfriend. She was my best girl friend, a person I admired and loved. I still do. But suicide is awful for those left behind. I can't begin to imagine the pain she must have felt to do such a thing.

The photo above is of her with her beloved dog, Frances, a Chow Chow Natalie raised from a puppy who was the dearest, most fabulous dog you could ever hope to meet. Raising Frances brought out the best in Natalie, and there was a lot about her that was wonderful.

She was fascinating, brilliant, creative, hilarious. One of the few people I've met in my life whom I immediately thought: "I must be that person's friend." I was lucky enough that she felt the same way about me.

So now I'm thinking about using things I experienced while with Natalie in my writing. I'm still playing with the idea, but it also worries me. Natalie isn't "mine" to write about. She was her own person, with a family, and I can't help worrying I'll hurt them if I write something they recognize as being part of her.

But I learned a lot from Natalie. We had some hilarious, frustrating, nurturing, angry, loving adventures. I think she'd approve of me using some of those times together in my writing. As a creative person herself, she would understand. And she was, without fail, the most supportive person in the world when it came to my writing.

I'm still thinking about it. I wonder how other writers feel about doing this sort of thing. We often use our own emotions and experiences as jumping off places for our writing. But how much of that is good and is art, and how much is exploitation?

Sorry. A weighty blog post today. But it's also fun to share Natalie with the world. I don't want her forgotten. She was one of a kind.


Kathleen said...

While Natalie was her own person, your experiences with her were and are your own. In fact, you continue to experience life in a way that was profoundly changed by her, so those experiences continue years after she left. Don't leave yourself out of the equation. And from your description, it sounds like you would be honoring her memory, the heights and the depths, and she would cheer you on. How can you not write about her?

Nina Berry said...

It took me awhile to respond to this comment because it meant so much to me and brought up a lot of emotion. I think you're right. Thanks, Kathleen.