Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Love To Write

Last week I mentioned jotting down characters for my next novel in a journal, and I got an email asking me about it, so I decided to answer the question with this post about writing.

I used to be in sales. Medical sales to be exact. I was quite good at making contacts and closing deals and my father who had also spent his life in sales would say, "Krissy, you can sell Ice to the Ice Man."

I was quite content in my professional life before Peyton. I made good money and my career was headed in the direction I wanted it to go, so even though I had always loved to write, I filed my aspirations for it under the heading of "someday", saying things like, "someday, when I have free time on my hands, I'm going write a novel." Little did I know how quickly that "someday" would be upon me.

When Peyton died I lost my drive for sales. I no longer felt happy, or personable, two qualities that I needed to be successful in that field, and I wasn't brave enough to face my clients, all of whom had last seen me very, very pregnant. I was grieving. And lonely. And depressed. I had lost my hopes and dreams, my sense of self, and I was drowning. Immediately after her death I turned to writing for relief, so in some ways I think of my life of writing as Peyton's gift to me. 

Peyton died in October and by November I had recorded some hundred pages of her life, detailed accounts of all that had happened to her and to me, knowing that eventually I would want to share them. This was long before I found the blogworld. I spent the next six months writing a memoir about what it is to be a bereaved mother. I wrote about all of it. The beautiful bits and the painful bits and the taboo bits dealing with PTSD and depression and my feelings of failure as a mother.

In May 2009 I met with a literary agent to discuss my memoir. He was youngish, maybe 8 or 10 years older than me, and he told me that he felt the book was "very well written, but sad."

"It's a sad story," I said, "my daughter died. My world came crashing down. I went to a very dark place."

"Well I think it is too sad."

"Is there such a thing as being too sad over your child's death?"

The agent's words hit me like a ton of bricks, not because he had chosen not to represent me, but because the reason for my writing the memoir, much like my reason for writing this blog, was to offer an honest account of what grief looks like. I explained that not every grieving mother wants to read about rainbows and happy endings, nor do we all buy into the notion that we ought to feel grateful that our baby is "in a better place," or not feel angry with God. Sometimes, when you are in that dark early place, you just want to read that your newfound fear of the dark, or the aching in your arms that wont go away, or your inability to recognize yourself, are somewhat normal. Not normal to the outside world, but normal under such extremely abnormal circumstances.

I don't know why I never pursued it further with another agent. Maybe at the time I was too raw. Some time has passed now, and though I still don't believe in wrapping that memoir up with a neat little bow, I know that now I could sit through a meeting like the one I had had with that first agent without feeling so defensive because I have come to realize that there are just some people outside of the loss world who will never, ever, understand. But there is bound to be an agent who will, and when I find him/her, Peyton's story will be told. It was a week or so after meeting with that agent that I started blogging here, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I love to write. 

At the end of last year I completed my first novel. It's funny, and brash, and has nothing at all to do with loss which may come as a surprise to many of you. It is three hundred or so pages that have been over a year and a half in the making. I started writing it at the writer's retreat that I talk about in my Sea Glass post and because of my own stupidity - and an accident involving my car running over my flash drive that we will go into another day - I have actually written this novel in its entirety twice.

Sometimes I think of the characters in this novel as friends. Though they are caught up in their own misadventures, and have no idea that I, their creator, even exists, these characters have, in their own funny ways, seen me through my roles as newly bereaved mother, TTC infertile, bed resting momma to be, and now breastfeeding mother to healthy twins. I am doing my final edit on it now, before submitting it to agents, and though it is taking me longer than I expected because most of my time spent working on it is one handed, or no handed, as I breastfeed, I love working on it nonetheless and cannot wait to see it finished and published.

I love to write.

Memoir, blogs, short story, poetry, prose, novel.

I love to write.

It may be a post on my blog, a poem written by Peyton's grave, a chapter in my novel, a short story, or a note on a napkin for a future story idea, but every day, regardless of what else is going on in my life, I write in some capacity.

Writing is my friend. 
My confidant. 
A view inside my soul. 

Through my own words, the act of writing unleashes my imagination. 
It frees me of my demons. 
It helps me to both remember, and to escape.

I love to write.


  1. Thanks for sharing and I hope your book about your grief and survival can be published to help other parents who 'need' to know how to survive through child loss.

    I too have written a memoir about losing my sister, mum and 4 year old daughter over three years but have had no luck in getting an agent. All of them said from my synopsis that the story was also 'too sad.' This has of course made me shelve my manuscript for now.

    You can look at self publishing as I know when we were told Savannah would die I wanted and needed so desperately to know how a mother gets through something so profound.

    An agent told me, if nothing else, I have a beautiful memoir for our other healthy daughter who unfortunately never knew her sister.

    Good luck and I hope you have luck in finding a publisher so you can share your wonderful words of wisdom and support for those of us that need it.
    with love
    Diana x

  2. I love to write too and so understand everything you said here.

    I will keep my eyes open for posts announcing your book(s) being published.

  3. Sorry about your loss and happy for your twins and your new novel. Yes, I do believe that there is and agent out there for your first book. All the best.

    I'm a writer too and knows the infertility world well. See the title of my blog.

  4. All the very best with getting published, of course life is sad with losing a child...come on agents...they need to live in our shoes...a book like yours would be a comfort to many people to know they are not alone, good on you for having the guts, the writing skills the love to produce a book

  5. I can't wait to read your novel and, I hope someday, Peyton's memoir.

  6. when I first met you, you were in the midst of writing that memoir. And it was then I knew you had a gift for writing. We often love what come easiest for us and thank Goodness writing comes easiest to you as it has brought you through the long grieving process. I remember one of our conversations when the memoir wasn't yet finished then, perhaps you have its ending now.... and now it's far from sad. In fact, your story and its true happy ending will give other baby loss mothers the one thread in life that will keep us going: HOPE. Best of luck in your publishing efforts, GO for it!!

  7. I love to read your writing. Don't ever give up.
    Too sad. Meh, what would he know. Jerk.

  8. I am glad you have your 'writing'. And I agree, writing down is a great way of sharing our innermost thoughts.

    I hope that you will submit the grief memoir again to an agent. Even before my loss, I would have wanted to read something of that kind.

    You see, we know enough to know that rainbows come after dark clouds and a crying sky.

    Take Care and All the best for the manuscript being accepted and published.

  9. That agent definitely didn't understand, but I believe you will find one who does. I would like to read your memoir. Those I read in the first few months after my loss (I'm still in those first months) were so helpful in letting me know I am not some sort of freak. My thoughts, emotions, actions are normal, other people have experienced the same thing.

    I am newish to your blog and look forward to reading your posts and snippets from your novel.

  10. This is beautiful.
    Thank you for reminding me why I write. I have felt something missing for a while now, and I think this post has reminded me...I miss writing.
    I hope you find the right agent to bring your book to the world.

  11. Not only do you love to write..but you have a reason to write, and a gift for writing. Will be keeping my fingers crossed for you...as a writer myself, and the wife of a writer, I know enough to tell you to never give up. Never. There will be an agent...there will be a publishing company. I wouldn't say this if I wasn't confident that your writing was top notch. (HUG)

  12. And I LOVE reading your writing.