I have reached a state of overwhelm. Realizing I basically have to start back at square one with the most recent edit of Silky after my computer crashed, I find myself defeated and stuck. I actually heard myself say to my friend over lunch last week, “I just don’t care anymore. My book–that I’ve worked on and rearranged my whole life over the last 13 years–just no longer brings me joy. It feels like a burden.”
With a well of sympathy and understanding, my friend, confidant and editor Ruth suggested I take a break. It’s funny how the people you trust in life are the only ones who can give you the permission you sometimes can’t give yourself. While hiking with another friend recently, I was offered more sound advice. She encouraged me to set a deadline for my hiatus. She’s a fellow writer, so she knows how these “breaks” can turn into retirements.
I am reminded of my description of Sylvia’s state of mind and heart when Fairbanks died suddenly of a heart attack only three years after their marriage. Grief is hard enough, but particularly heavy when it blindsides you. She had her girlfriends Norma Shearer, Constance Bennett and Merle Oberon as well as her sister Vera to see her through.
This week’s photograph was taken at Fairbanks’ funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery a year after his death. Sylvia commissioned the tomb and memorial. She can be seen wearing a white hat walking next to Doug’s brother Robert, in front of Charlie Chaplin. To this day, the whole Fairbanks Lawn remains and is the site of the annual outdoor summer movie screenings by Cinespia.
I don’t feel ready to give up completely, but I am empty right now. Not only do I not seem to have a shred of creativity inside me, I’m also job hunting and have been struggling with depression all summer. Each day I manage to tackle the basics of life: my physical needs and financial obligations then I quietly tuck away in my little cottage with my familiars. A few times a week I have the company of supportive friends.
When you’re lost and you can’t see in the darkness, your girlfriends will light your way. Their loving perspective can keep you afloat. And though I am taking a break from editing Silky until the 13th of October (appropriately, Ruth’s birthday), Sylvia is always with me.