I have met cancer. Stared it down while it wormed its way through my fathers deteriorating body. Sat by helplessly while my Dad bid the family a weak and emaciated farewell when the cancer decided it was going to take my father away from this life. The cancer didn’t stay long, but time wasn’t needed to do the kind of damage that was done within days…to my family, to my fathers will and to his body.

I will spare everyone the gory details. This blog is about writing and about finding inspiration. For me this article is about finding an outlet, a release…catharsis.

The other night, a very good friend (who was with me the night my father passed) briefly mentioned my father and what followed, to my embarrassment, was  a near instantaneous waterworks show. As we sat in a sort-of-new gastropub on Ventura Blvd, drinking reasonably priced alcohol while watching the night slip into early morning I felt my mood shift from light to dark within an instant. I took that darkness home with me. Crying for myself and my daughter who will never really know her grandfather, only to wake up with the realization that I don’t need to. I can follow in the footsteps of the greats. Do what other writers, artists and musicians have been doing for centuries…turn the loss into inspiration and make sure my little girl gets to know the man who raised me with words, not tears. The good and the bad. I am going to take those experiences and use them in future works, or sprinkle them around in what I have yet to complete.

My father’s life, his actions (good or bad), his death and my reactions all provide creative stimuli and the ugly moments are just as important as the beautiful ones. In fact, they are more because they impact and scar so deeply. They mold our reactionary behavior, which we can use to mold our character’s or guide a story path. Don’t shy away from these experiences. Embrace as much of them as you can because release in the form of art can be quite purgative.

Sara O'Connor
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