New Essay Collection!
This month I sent out my little book of essays, Creation Story. It was so natural to say yes to the making of this book. It began when a poet asked me to come to Orcas Island to read for their salon series.
“You realize I haven’t published my memoir yet?” I said.
“I’m so moved by your piece in Brevity. I want you to come here to share with our community. Read anything you want.”
I’d read my work publicly before, but never any of the words about my husband’s loss of his memories. When Richard and I spoke our freshly written passages to each other in our sunlit kitchen, we would hold hands and cry. At first, I was hesitant to share such emotional experiences with strangers, yet I found myself agreeing to travel. Weeks passed. One day, I realized I could make a book to take to the event. I brainstormed, played, asked a lot of questions, and within ten days a new book arrived at our doorstep.
The essays selected for this book have been published in Brevity, The Southern Review, Cold Mountain Review, Side B. They were some of my favorite pieces I’d written, mostly because I’d put my heart in writing. I’d said some things I’d never publicly proclaimed. I’d told some family stories that were beautiful and wrenching and, once upon a time, secret. Now I was trying to be transparent, to see if I could stop dreading rejection and judgment. While I keep what is private, or what I consider to be sovereign, my memoir writing demonstrates (to me, mostly) that I don’t have anything to fear. I have no reputation to uphold. As my husband so gracefully shows me, I’m in a relationship with the present, where what matters is authenticity, not social status. This truth arrived on the page first through writing about our family’s changes in the wake of the TBI. Without the friendship and counsel of Warren Etheredge, Judith Laxer, Pamela Grace, Laurie Wagner, Trey Gunn, Waverly Fitzgerald, Carole Harmon, Sheila Belanger, Priscilla Long and Benjamin Smythe, and everyone who challenged me to radical honesty and deliberate transparency, I wouldn’t have had the courage to send our story out there. Thank you.
Ever since the day Creation Story began to be shared, we’ve been in wonder at the responses from friends, family and strangers. Some people from Richard’s past hadn’t known what happened to him, and there was the book announcement, declaring on facebook and twitter and linkedin that he’d had a brain injury that took the memories of his life. When I shared his story with a group of soldiers from Fort Lewis, nearly all of them could relate to the bewildering changes of personality and identity that Richard experienced. A former colleague of Richard’s reconnected to say, “He was always happy, smiling and proudly talked about your family. He simply loves life. With your family’s tremendous love, support and with Richard’s determination, I’m not at all surprised that he has been able to recover, remember, relearn and return to life.”
Another friend wrote, “I’m haunted in the most delicious ways, imagining what it might be to completely forget. I try to hold my entire history/story as if it was happening now, to keep alive in my mind how wonderful or terrible it was. I’m in the process of dissipating it all, like a pile of debris, imagining how it would be to have every minute, every taste, every touch, every interaction to be new, unheard of, unfelt.”
Our big story, the memoir we spent much of the year writing, is finding its way to the allies who will help it find its audience. In the meantime, we’re sending Creation Story out to people.
If you’d like to help get the book into the hands of those you think might benefit, please write us and ask for a free copy. If you want to take it to cancer survivors, people in recovery from TBI, hospitals, coffee shops, book clubs, or give it to your best friends, we want to send you Creation Story. Just ask whomever you give a copy to keep it moving.
And if you’d like to buy a book yourself you can find Creation Story here.