I am always moved to write when someone I know dies. I feel like it's the best way for me to cope: to put my emotions onto the page and hope that in the process I work through my pain is the goal. It helps, though. A friend of mine -- a therapist and a good one at that -- once talked to me about coaching people suffering from depression and other things to use art as their outlet for their emotions. I've found it to be thoroughly useful, and I'm working through things right now.
I'm producing a short story that I'm rather proud of. It's painful, and strong, and emotional, and I think it's going to be something I can feel satisfied with sending out to some of the more mainstream publishers out there.
I recently read a letter written by Kurt Vonnegut after he was liberated from a workers camp in Germany during WW2. It was powerful to hear his thoughts on the series of events that led him from capture to liberation. The pain -- both physical and mental -- that he endured, the strength that he had to deal with it, and the emotion that he poured into his writing years later fascinates me and compels me to follow in his footsteps. To be so strong is admirable.
I think it is that harnessing of one's past that allows a writer -- or any artist -- to create something truly memorable, meaningful, and powerful. Those are the things I strive for in my own writing. To be forgotten is worse, to me, than death: that is what I fear the most.
Sorry for the bit of personal outpouring. It's a personal blog -- so I reserve the right to get personal sometimes :-)