Monday, January 10, 2011

Gotta crow!

Okay, yes, this image is a fun homage to my former life on the farm. But it's also a pretty accurate representation of how I'm feeling today, now that the first chapter of my memoir, modified as a stand-alone essay, has been published.

If you’d like to read my essay, you can get to it here.

If you already heard this news through other means, I apologize. My approach to public relations is basically to amass a whole lot of interpersonal relations, so sometimes there’s overlap. Last year for example, as chair of The Write Stuff, I spent 14 hours personally e-mailing everyone in my writing group's database to invite them to the conference. In addition, I sent out personal e-mails to contacts within other writing groups; this was in addition to our national advertising. It worked—we sold out the conference—but this was not the easy route, by any means.

But I’ve never really embraced the easy way. Even as a kid—do it just because my mom tells me to? No way. Use the formula just because the algebra teacher says to? Show me how to derive it first, Mrs. Arnold. That same depth of focus (okay, bull-headedness) would one day allow me—a teen who could never make it across the half-mile width of the lake while swimming with her sisters—to become a woman who, since turning 50, has several times swum its 2-mile length.

I would lean heavily upon that stick-to-it-iveness in life. There is nothing easy about healing from the suicide of a loved one. After reading my published essay, one writing friend was surprised to hear it had happened 13 years ago, because when she was reading it had felt so immediate.

I’m glad I captured that, because that’s the paradox that exists in my mind, as well—the events of that time are both distant and near. Ron’s suicide both repels my attention and seduces it; its power is both centrifugal and centripetal.

Given that the perception of time is not a constant, and the path forward is never uniformly groomed or even evident, I’m glad I didn’t leave my healing to time and distance alone. I’m not sure that would have done the trick.

Developing the skills to write about these events has been as effortful as the healing. Although I was published for 19 years as a journalist, creative writing is an entirely different challenge, and doing it well enough to get published has been no walk in the park. I sought publication for two reasons, really: like any writer I wanted the validation of my skills, but I also want to communicate—and because that requires both a speaker and a listener, writing is only the front half of the equation.

By extending my reach, the publication of the first chapter of Standoff at Ronnie’s Place has allowed me to find readers. But I found an unanticipated gift hidden in this process. The audience I’ve found isn’t just listening—it’s talking back. The comments and private notes from those who have read this piece, like the comments of those who have read this blog, are precious to me. Like building a conference, I am now building a readership—one interpersonal relationship at a time.

Thank you. My life is so much richer for this.

The way I see it: I triumph once by making my way through the dark forest of horrific events, sorting through and taming the brambles threatening to ensnare me. But I triumph again when publication shines its light on the many souls who surround me on this path. I am not alone. We are sisters and brothers all, finding one another.

That’s something to crow about.

1 comment:

jongibbs said...


Congratulations, Kathryn :)