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The pain of writing and dating
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There are so many adages about writing -- write what you know, write from the heart, show them don’t tell them and the list goes on, ad nauseum. I took a fair share of writing classes as an undergrad and I loved those classes. That’s the most fun I’ve ever had as a student in a learning scene, I have no doubt.

Creative writing is the most effective art for me. It’s a way of connecting to your thoughts and setting them free. So, I know these adages -- these “tips” you hear so often about writing -- I know them well.

The one that I find to be truest is that it’s hard to write when you’re happy. Sadness and/or frustration tend to work better as catalysts. It just makes for better writing. So what? Were all writers depressed? Well, yes, many of them … but not all of them and not all of the time.

I asked a professor about this one time, how you are supposed to write something meaningful when you’re happy or in love, something that people actually want to read. He said you have to find a way to channel the creative pain. And that, I think, makes sense.

After reading my coworker’s wonderful column last Friday about the woes of being 20 something and trying to navigate the dating scene, I felt inspired to talk about my own experience, recently, in that avenue. I felt like I could “channel the creative pain” she so aptly described.

A few nights ago, I broke down and called an ex-boyfriend that I had a slightly bitter break from. I hadn’t spoken to him in a month, but I had heard from a few mutual friends that he was having a rough time with one of his parents being very ill. I kept saying that’s sad, but I can’t get involved. If he wants to talk to me, he can call.

I kept telling myself, don’t call him. You’ll regret it. We made a break for a reason, remember that, stick with that, move on. Then, yet another friend called and asked if I’d spoken to him.

“No, I have not,” I said adamantly, with a touch of attitude to cut off any further questions.

“Why?”

And I didn’t have an answer. All the things I’d been saying for so long now, for a month now, to bolster me out of missing him were somehow not there. I felt so very sad. I got off the phone with the friend and immediately called. The sound of the ring tone brought tears to my eyes. By the time he answered, they were running down my cheeks.

We talked for 30 minutes or so and though he’s going through a bad spot with his parent, he still has a good outlook. I told him I missed him and he said he missed me too and we promised that the next time I was in town we’d try to see each other.

Something tells me it won’t be for a long time that I’ll see him, though. Not that I don’t want to, but a part of me thinks -- you’ve come this far in the process of moving on, going back would be utterly foolish.

And we both know there’s no way we’ll be together again and I don’t think we even really want it, we just like to bring up the past every now and then to remind ourselves it actually happened.

And I think, looking at the night I called him, I wasn’t so much crying that I missed him, but that I missed the memory. But I don’t think it’s worth it to resurrect a bad relationship just to feel like you’re in love again. It’s much harder to give up the old love and move on and prepare yourself to find something better. Yes, it’s harder, but it’s the right thing to do … and it’s worth the effort.