Books, Breasts, and Why I Write
It’s taken me a long time to write about this. Every time I sat down to do it, I fell short. I wrote in circles. I lost direction. It’s difficult to tell a story that is intensely personal, and so I’ve been avoiding it.
Then a wise writing friend gave me a little push, reminding me we “put our hearts on display” in everything we write. Whenever we tell stories, true or imagined, we reveal parts of ourselves – how we think, feel, behave, dream. It’s like opening our heads and letting people look into our brains. And that makes us feel vulnerable. But my friend encouraged me to be bold and fearless and willing to go to “that place.” So I went…
2016 was a tough year for me, and it was no surprise when my worries and sadness interrupted my writing. Motivation is a delicate thing. It takes a great deal of emotion and mental energy to pour a story onto the page. When that energy is needed elsewhere, the desire to write is hijacked, sucked out like water through a siphon. Much determination is needed not to quit. When life gets messy, writers must step back, deal with the disruptions, and manage priorities. We have to force ourselves to write through the hardest times.
As 2016 came to an end, I felt myself crawling out of my funk and getting back to my writing schedule.
January 2017 – a new year! I dusted myself off, got back on track, and received some fabulous news. The essay I’d submitted to the San Francisco Writers Conference won a prestigious award. I was over the moon. I attended the conference as a special guest and was given the opportunity to meet one on one with several literary agents. The novel I’d been working on for over three years was in great shape and ready to go out into the world. Several agents at the conference requested pages.
Fast forward a few months . . . the afterglow of the conference faded, connections dropped off, and the agents who had expressed interest in my manuscript moved on to other projects. Refusing to be discouraged, I doubled-down, reworked my query, and kept going.
As spring rolled toward summer, I felt like the energizer bunny. I was in control, organized, and focused. I had even started a new project – a massive rewrite of my existing book and a possible leap into the world of independent publishing. And then, at the end of June, I got the call that changed everything.
Following my routine mammogram, I was told to come back (imagine being summoned to the principal’s office and getting into trouble for something you didn’t do . . . only way worse). Before I knew it, I was sitting across from a doctor I’d never met who told me I had breast cancer. I’m not going to go into the details – hell, a girl can only get so personal before it gets weird – but I will tell you that I’m doing fine. (Note: if you wish to connect with me about BC, send me an email at email@example.com – I’m always happy to chat with anyone who needs support, help, encouragement).
Again, priorities shifted, and my tasks multiplied. With every “inconvenience” of dealing with my diagnosis, I grew frustrated with myself. I resented the time cancer took away from my writing goals. I hated having to put energy into something so unexpected and obviously unwanted.
Then one day, an epiphany struck. Feeling a bit overwhelmed and frankly a little blue, I realized I needed to reassess and ask myself a tough question: “Why do I write?”
And the answer came to me, as clear and welcome as a new sunrise. I write to give. Whether I’m writing a post like this or an entire novel, I write to give something to somebody else – entertainment, encouragement, escape. I write to connect and let people know they’re not alone in this journey, whatever the journey might be: dealing with aging parents, losing a beloved pet, raising children, watching your mom pass away, even having cancer. And I write for myself. Writing helps me make sense of the lessons life teaches.
This epiphany sent me in a whole new direction and inspired yet another new project, which is unfolding as we speak. It’s called “Write to Give.” The mission is to share books with people who are experiencing difficulties in life ~ works of fiction and non-fiction that comfort, inspire, and uplift.
My revised (and much improved) novel, Long Dance Home, will be released December 12th. It is a heartwarming story about family, forgiveness, and discovering the path one is meant to travel in life. (It’s sweet, funny, and romantic, too) For my first WTG project, I am donating copies of my book to women battling breast cancer. A gift from one woman to another, a connection that simply says, “I’m with you.” I’ll also be participating in fundraisers for two non-profit entities and donating 100% the proceeds to the organizations.
I’m so excited about my new mission that I hardly have a moment to think about cancer. And that is just fine with me. I’ll deal with it when I have to, and when I don’t, I’ve got plenty of other stuff to keep me busy.
I write to give others some of the things we all need at different times in our lives ~ hope, compassion, joy, and laughter. I write to give you a little piece of me.
Julie Mayerson Brown, 2017
Sneak peek here: http://amzn.to/2B0zVrn