I started out 2012 with the following resolutions list:
1.) finish writing “Searching for Ellen”
2.) read at least 25 books
3.) do something I’ve never done before
4.) get down to my pre-Benny-baby weight
5.) ween off anti-depressants
6.) take a vacation
#2 was completed somewhere around March, #3 with the start of the TweepNation Podcast, #4 I knocked out by August, #5 was completed before Valentine’s Day, and #6 took place in late-September. And its been a busy year. But prepping last week for the TweepNation podcast for this week, I decided to pull up my list of resolutions from 2012, and talk about what I did and did not accomplish.
Seeing #1 on the list uncompleted, especially when I had accomplished everything else? Really chapped my ass.
You see, I started out 2012 asking three of my favorite Indie Authors, Russell Blake, Barry Crowther, and Claude Bouchard for a favor. And the favor was for them to ride my ass until I finished writing “Searching for Ellen”. Which they did. And sometime around February and March, they were joined in the whip cracking by Dionne Lister, Scott Morgan, Charity Parkerson, and Justin Bog. Personally, I think everyone involved with the whip cracking was highly entertained by the idea of bossing me around.
“Write the damn book!” and “Your story is too important to not tell,” were the two most common smack-talkin’ phrases I recieved. Bossy coupled with supportive always seems to get me to complete a job that’s left undone.
But what I didn’t count on was getting inspired to write other books. I figured that “Color of Dawn” and “Searching for Ellen” were all I had in me. And I can remember emailing one of my whip-crackers to say, “Okay, I know I said I’d write it this year, but I just had to write this other book. I couldn’t help myself!” To which they responded: “Okay fine. You’re writing. Just don’t let this story go. Don’t put it so far on the back burner you forget about it.”
Which I never could do. Because “Searching for Ellen” has always been a weight, one which grew heavier as more time passed. Originally started in January 2000, and almost completed in October of 2002 hand written in several spiral bound notebooks, still, I didn’t feel right about publishing it. For starters, in 2002, Indie Authors weren’t as wide-spread and well known. But several things about the story just did not sit well with me.
So I sat on it. Occasionally, I’d pull out my notebooks and copy what I’d written over to a word document. But the reality was, I was fudging, buying myself time. The end of 2002 brought with it the devastating diagnosis of Endometriosis, and as the year turned over into 2003, I found myself battling with depression, while planning a wedding (you’d be depressed as well if you’d been told you most likely would never have biological children, something you had always dreamed of doing). And while I came out of my depression, 2003 turning over into 2004 brought with it a new marriage, and the biggest surprise of all: my pregnancy and the birth of my oldest child Amethyst.
Who can write when there’s a new baby in the house screaming all day long from his new baby crib mattress? Or when you’re struggling through post partum depression?
2004 became 2005, and I promised myself I’d write my story. A promise I ended up breaking with one excuse or another, and before I knew it, it was 2006, I was blessed with my first nephew, and my father had open heart surgery. And we began trying for a new baby.
Life gets in the way on everything, except if you do not let it. What was really holding me back was my fear of truly sitting down, looking over my life as an adoptee and the search for my biological mother with a microscope and reliving some of the most painful experiences of my life.
In truth, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Because I was struggling during that time. As the calendar moved through 2007, I had surgery, I finally became pregnant and suffered a devastating miscarriage. I waited, very impatiently for 2007 to come to a close, and when it did, I vowed once again to finish the book I had started so many years before. But 2008 yielded yet another surgery, and I became pregnant with my daughter Autumn, a pregnancy that was spent in fear of losing the baby I so desperately wanted. 2009 began with my life as a mother of two, and I began a second descent into post partum depression, all while moving from an apartment that truly was a home, into my in-laws house after they were both laid off of their jobs.
And I just could not write, not so far down in my depression that I could hardly keep myself together enough to take care of my daughters. A family member in need of help that summer, along with my father suffering a horrible fall just added to the weight I was struggling over.
2009 became 2010, and for the first time in my life, I ended a year where I had no written a single word except for grocery lists. And I was also pregnant with my third child.
2010 brought with it my son, and the decision to have a partial hysterectomy at the young age of 33. Bored out of my mind, with little else to do during my recovery, I joined Twitter. Several months later, after receiving a kindle as a gift, I discovered Indie Authors and the amazing work they do. Following one led to my following others, and before I knew it, Twitter was a daily part of my life, and I began writing again.
In October of 2011, Barry Crowther began helping me get ready to release “the Color of Dawn”. And I decided that enough was enough. It was time to tell my story. I put out the call for whip crackers to help me finish my book. Shortly after Dionne Lister and I began the TweepNation podcast in January of 2012, I began looking over what I had written. And while I had a book written, it was not the book I was meant to publish. What I had written at twenty, twenty-two, twenty-three, and twenty-four was tinged with the hurt of a humiliating first marriage, and not an honest telling of life as an adoptee. On the fourth podcast, the subject of my book came up, and I stated I was rewriting the book, taking out the parts of my ex-husband. When Scott Morgan, our guest that week, asked me if I’d be not telling the full story by removing that part, I answered honestly that no, that part of the story wasn’t part of the story, and was in effect, me just whining about a bad marriage. Dionne described it as not writing about the leech on your leg while you’re climbing Mount Everest.
I needed to remove the parts about the leeches on my legs, and just write from my heart.
Thirty-five gives a new perspective on a person’s life story that twenty-four just can’t do.
But fear colored what I wrote. I’d read over journal entries, and I’d find my heart pounding and tears filming over my vision. And I had to stop. Because I was being taken to a very dark place, a very hurtful place when I was working on the book. And for the first time in years, my body as well as my emotions were clean of any medication to numb out any painful emotions. I was feeling fully everything I have been through in my life.
So it was hit and run writing. Because I could only read over what I had written, what emails had been sent and received during that time in short bursts.
During late September, I returned to Pennsylvania to take photos and interview my younger brother and sister. I also took with me everything I’d ever written about my experiences as an adoptee. Daily, I’d re-read those journal entries, and daily, if I didn’t fully break down and sob, I’d still cry over the hurt I experienced, over the feelings of isolation and loneliness at going through something that momentous on my own, with no one to show me how to get to where I needed to be. I faced a lot that week, both about myself and what my biological mother went through by having me so young and giving me up for adoption. On my second to last night on the East Coast, Dionne and I recorded our podcast for the week, and after, we spoke on the phone. I was a total mess, sobbing to my dear friend, and she listened and finally said, “You need to be angry. You have every right to be angry about this. I don’t think you’ve ever let yourself feel anger about this.”
I’ve spent October, November, and most of December thinking I wouldn’t be able to finish “Searching” this year. I also spent it soul searching and doing heavy thinking. But on Sunday night, after seeing my resolutions list for 2012, something shifted and clicked in my head. And like its happened with every other book I’ve written this last year, the drive and the addiction to the written word took over, and I just had to write. Come hell or high water, no matter the cost, I had to write until it was finished.
Wednesday night, sitting around, talking with a friend, I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I do not want to write this book.” And he said, “Then don’t. Trash it.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Will you feel better when you’re finished writing it?” he asked. And my answer was yes. “Then finish it finally,” was his response.
I worked late into Thursday morning, and before I had my first sip of coffee on Thursday morning after a couple hours sleep, my ass was parked back in my desk chair, and I wrote my story, finally.
At 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, December 27, I wrote the final line to a book I’ve been working on since January 23, 2000.
I also happily wrote to Barry Crowther, Claude Bouchard, and Russell Blake to tell them I did finish the book this year, just like I promised I would.
I’m taking a few days rest, to just live life without the weight of the need to write that book on my shoulders. New Years Eve I’m going out with dear friends to ring in the new year. January 2nd, I’ll wake up and begin the second draft revisions. And when that’s completed, I’ll send it to Scott Morgan to tear apart, so I can give my readers the best work I can do, because that’s what they deserve.
Cheers, Dear Reader! There has been so much to celebrate this last year… Join me in celebrating achieving dreams long dreamt.