the link on my blog console reads, “write.” it’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. you are a writer so click the button and begin. spin a tale of woe, love, disappointment. write until you laugh, or cry. tell your own story before someone else does. writing is a cathartic process of release and freedom, much like speaking, or a good old-fashioned primal scream. i’ve filled dozens of journals with words: ideas, shame, prayers, hope. i stood in front of my bookshelf tonight scanning the covers: blue felt, burgundy velvet, card stock, black textured vinyl, hundreds of pages of my very own book. and yet i struggle to bring pen to paper, keys to keyboard to begin and finish my very own novel. until last friday.
i’ve become a fan of the DMA arts and letters series, authors from around the world are invited to read from their latest work and intimately engage with budding writers and bookworms. the venue is reminiscent of a college lecture hall for a sociology class, one that holds maybe 85 seats. a few times i’ve seen the room filled to near capacity (dave issay, storycorp was one such evening.)
after the interview and brief reading the interviewer opens the mic to the audience. this particular time i joined those at the mic. i didn’t realize it when i bought the ticket (or the book) that the protagonist suffers from a type of mental illness. both interviewer and author were quick to note that such words were never printed in the book, but they acknowledged the main character was off-center at best. the author said he told his family about his plans to pen this novel, drawing some details from their collective past. i sat grinning like a cheshire cat when he noted that his mother asked, “do you think they will recognize us?” my smile faded when he remarked that we each have two families: the one that we know (present or not) and the one we want them to be. side note: the author is a gay man, his father committed suicide when he was 14. the trigger to write the novel was partially borne out a difficult time in his family.
after the Q&A, the author meets fans in the hallways for the book signing. the authors will personalize the title page of your book with whatever you write on the yellow post-it note an assistance provides. when i got to the desk the author was pleasant and i thanked him for his novel and explained the inscription i requested. he smiled showing all his teeth and commented, when i asked my editor for advice while writing this book, she said, be brave. he looked at me, scrawled “you have permission” added an explanation point to the sentence, and said, be brave.
trials and mental illness have been the backbone of my family for more than 2o years. decades of watching the pendulum swing between paranoia and lucidity as if an invisible hand pulled the silver ball and released it, watching it connect with the others, back and forth, back and forth; the pendulum swing clicking in slow motion for hours. for my family, hours are measured in years. i’ve watched my elder sister grasp at her thoughts as though they are marbles spilled across a granite countertop, while the rest of my family scrambles to catch them before they clatter to the hardwoods. the volatility and frequency of such occurrences straining our ability to apply the scripture, love covers a multitude of sins.
the story brewing in my spirit is waiting to be told, waiting for me to release the gnarled emotions that have formed a knot in my heart. because of adam, i will.