Category Archives: Beginnings

Beyond the Page

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks fielding the fallout that comes after a divorce. From the public comments of “She’s a sicko to celebrate a divorce!” and “Who gets rid of a husband after 24 years of marriage?” to the private comments that cannot be repeated, I have been struggling to reconcile the image of who I am with the truth of who I am.

As novelists, we try to convey the emotional truth through the lives of our characters, whether they are protagonists or antagonists. We use the tools of our trade to create the depth needed to gain a reader’s sympathy or understanding. If we succeed, then our books resonate with our audience.

Once we step beyond the page, we novelists become just people, no different than the clerk in the grocery store you don’t give a second thought to once you check out or the aunt you text once a week to see if she’s okay. We are three dimensional people with three dimensional lives making three dimensional decisions, but we are sometimes treated like one dimensional caricatures by strangers, acquaintances, or people who say they love, support, and understand us.

Not everyone has the ability to walk in another person’s shoes and feel their pain, their longing, their hopes, or their fears. But as a writer, I would hope there are more people who are acutely aware and chronically compassionate, people who would never say, “There’s something wrong with them for behaving in a certain way,” not because they agree with our actions, but because they can see beyond their own sphere of beliefs, mores, and judgments.

Maybe this is part of the curse of being a writer. You become stuck in a world of make believe. You know anything is possible because you can create it. Good and evil. That’s why you persist in going forward through the thicket of protestors who cannot see beyond the image. You keep the faith because you know the emotional truth of who we are and why we’re here and how we are united.

Intensely Personal

I’ve spent the first half of my life as a confessional writer, beginning with the poetry I wrote in high school and ending with the memoir that was published last year.

Now I don’t feel like sharing my intimate writing with the world anymore.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but that everything I want to express is too close to the bone, too personal, without that professional distance even a confessional writer needs.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not writing. I’m writing a lot, every other day, even though I feel like I could write all the time, only my schedule does not allow it, at least for now while I’m preoccupied with other things that are temporarily more important.

Does that mean my professional writing is postponed a little while longer? I don’t know. I’ve spent the last week reaching out to old contacts who had requested articles and essays and short stories from me. I’ve let people know I’m back, but I’m not anxious. I’ve already begun to write that slow, painful dance of trying to contain the emotions that are spilling onto the paper and rein them in as words. Most days I spend crying when I’m not writing. After all, I have 20 pounds of emotions to purge from the previous year. It’s not going to happen overnight.

From experience, I know when I’m done I’ll be a better person and a better writer, deeper, clearer, more empathetic than I already am. And, hopefully, the words will become less personal and more professional, and I’ll be ready to publish again.

My Apology

I’m sorry for disappearing.

I should have told you the truth sooner. Maybe you would have understood. I wasn’t trying to avoid you. I was just unable to write.

For over the last year, I’ve been embroiled in the process of ending 23 years of marriage to my biggest fan.

I pushed through the first six months, propelled by the sales and marketing campaign for my memoir, Red Eggs and Good Luck, and the resulting nationwide book tour. But when I returned to California last November, I stopped writing. I would pick up a pen, but I could not find the words to express what was going on or what I felt or needed to say. I could not tell a story, write a poem, or compose a letter. I thought my writing days were over, that I had done what I needed to do, and that my career was finished.

But once my ex-husband signed the final marital settlement agreement, I felt my spirit lighter and my attitude brighter. The first half of my adult life was over. I was free to start again.

Instantly, the words returned.

The first thing I wrote was an apology to you, my fans, my community of readers, my extended family.

I want to thank my ex-husband for the gifts he gave me. For 25 years he protected me, cared for me, guided me, and partnered with me. He helped me grow up and into the woman I am today. He read every story I handed to him, encouraged me to continue on the writing journey despite rejection letters and other setbacks. He never said, “Quit. Get a real job.” I will always cherish those memories of unconditional love and support.

I admit I failed him. I broke his trust and his heart. I didn’t give in and I eventually gave up.

It’s always been difficult for me to write a good ending. That was my ex-husband’s specialty. Getting those last few words right. He isn’t here to do that anymore. It’s one of the many skills I am going to have to learn going forward.

And that’s alright because you’re here with me. We’ll help each other, one word at a time.