Thursday, February 7, 2008

Requiem for a writer

As writers, we explore the depths of our light and dark sides, searching for universal truths and hoping for common bonds with our readers. On occasion, it’s hard to pull back from that darkness, which is why studies show so many writers and poets suffer from depression. And sometimes, the light goes out while you’re slogging through the night of your own soul; famously, as with Ernest Hemingway or Sylvia Plath, or quietly, anonymously, as with Lynn VonDemfange. She took her own life last week, and while people mourn and ask why, fellow explorers of the inner sanctum will understand her next-to-last act: she wrote her own obituary, a very writerly thing to do. Really, what writer wouldn’t want control over the final public words summing up their experiences, accomplishments, and legacy?

Looking at the list of professional achievements she left behind, one might hope to gain that much success. She had edited magazines, including a stint at Country Home, worked for Hallmark Cards, and wrote her own column for a while at the local paper.

But sometimes, the bylines aren’t enough. I only knew her by the words she wrote, the honest opinions she gave. I didn’t know her personal story or her pain, but I do know that she was a talented writer, and no matter what anyone says, we can always use more. The world is a little less literate without her.

So, thinking of Lynn, put down your pencils sometime this weekend, hug the ones you love, go out into the sun or the snow or the rain, and enjoy life. If you find that you can’t enjoy life anymore, seek help and find your way back to the brightness. We’re writers, and we should create grand tragedies from our imagination, not become one in reality.

1 comment:

MaggieDad said...

I'm not sure why, but I was thinking about Lynn today. We knew her for a few years as a frequent customer to our Antique Mall in Kansas City prior to her relocation, and remember her excitement at talking about her upcoming move to Eureka Springs. We shared an attraction to that area, so had some fun talking about how cool it would be to live there. She was an attractive lady who like many, struggled with her self image a bit, and showed some signs of being in search of something she hadn't yet found. Any time we saw her though, it was with a warm smile and a sweet voice. We lost track of Lynn after she moved, but then saw her at a local Antiques Show one year and she seemed engaged and happy. Sadly, it wasn't much later that we heard of her passing. I wish we could have known her better, and perhaps offered some encouragement or help. I feel like we lost a good soul who just needed some love and understanding.

Lynn, we will be thinking about you from time to time, and hope you are in a better place.