My first “book” was called The Adventures of Cuddles the Cat. It was about a white kitten that became stuck in a tree, was afraid, then rescued. I was five years old and my finished product closely resembled a book that I owned, rewritten in my own words, with my own pictures, and maybe one small detail of the story changed from the original. I have been writing ever since.
Stories floated around in my head for years, but I was never able to flesh out a cohesive compilation of plot, characters, and voice. My teenage years of angst brought about a considerable amount of questionable poetry. I scrubbed my way through dozens of journals. Graduated from college, found a “real” job in the FinTech industry, and never gave a serious thought to writing as I entered adulthood.
In 2009, my first son was born. Three weeks into maternity leave, I found myself bored. I had an abnormally well-behaved baby, who slept perfectly and hardly cried. I started a blog, documenting the details of being a young mother in my mid-20s. From the funny to the mundane, I captured it all. 2012 brought another baby boy and I kept blogging. Call me the modern Samuel Pepys, writing for posterity, or as a way to keep distant family and friends up-to-date on our happenings; I continued to maintain my blog, writing every few days.
Writing changed forever when my daughter, Nelle, was stillborn in September of 2015. I was broken, devastated, and writing became a necessity in a way that I had never before experienced. I wrote to capture, wrangle, and process my pain. Less than six months later, I lost another baby girl, Iris. This time I shattered. And I kept writing.
Now more than two years have passed. I started a second blog, focusing only on grief after pregnancy loss and how it continues to affect everyday life, Grieving Out Loud. I have been trying to channel my writing into a book. The content is there: the organization is not. Editing the short pieces of a moment, captured in a blog post, into longer narrative and chapters is a challenge. But I am determined to work through it. This is somehow wedged into my days of a full time job; a house full with a husband, three kids, and cat; continuing to write in my two existing blogs, with occasional guest posts submitted elsewhere; researching sources and resources to help me in my book project; along with reading and yoga. I write while cooking dinner. I write at night when I cannot sleep. I’ve typed out ideas on my iPhone while watching the kids at swimming lessons. Often it feels like there not enough hours in the day.
Austin Kleon writes in his book Show Your Work “If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about, you have to share.” This means show the efforts, the drafts, look for feedback, make changes. Eight years of blogging about everyday life have hard-wired my brain to document, document, document. Process through the process. Write about writing. It is my own problem-solving, accountability, mixed in with some therapeutic value and self-satisfaction. And just maybe there is another writer or artist out there, struggling to fit everything together in the same way, who can say:
“I get it. I was born to do this. I just need to figure out how.”
Here I go. Documenting my efforts and launching into the writing unknown.