In some ways, it was the beginning of the end, in other ways it was simply a beginning. In 2010, I began to get ill. Not the kind you pick up an antibiotic for, it was a dark and frightening illness that was once again rearing its ugly head.
While I was lost in my own world and listening to music on my headset I found a post about NanoWriMo and I was interested in this odd sounding event. I read more about the prospect of writing a book in 30 days. I signed up, I felt something for the first time in months, a bit of excitement, a little fire. It felt good. I wanted to feel more so I continued reading all the guidelines and the supporting articles.
On November 1, 2010, I sat down at the computer right about 4 am and began to write. The words flowed and suddenly I could see a story building. I saw the child, Melanie as she grew. I saw her in school caught in a web of neglect and loneliness that produced an intense shyness. I saw my girl. I told her story as she whispered to me well into the night. Melanie whispered day after day and her story unfolded beneath my fingertips. I was feeling alive and worthwhile. Her story had substance, her story needed to be told. It gave me a mission through that dark November.
As the days progressed another stronger voice began to share her side of Melanie’s story. Rachel came in like a hurricane. She put order and substance in place and took the story from sad to hopeful and gave wings to the future of Melanie.
Rob also came to life, he brought a gentlemanly order to the story. He was insightful and he handled Melanie in a way that comforted her and made her brave. With his gentle strength, she gained her own strength. He saw her stilted way of speaking as charming, he found her book references invigorating as he struggled to know from which book she was quoting.
The last few days of November, I spent polishing my ideas. Wondering how anyone other than me would feel about reading this skewed story about a girl and her mother. Would readers find the story as positive as I did? Would they get trapped in the sadness of the first chapter? I let my son-in-law read the book and tell me his honest opinion. He encouraged me to continue polishing it, edit it, and share it. It took a while, but I did it. I shared it in 2012. I was still sick, in fact, I was sicker than I had been in 2010.
Funny how not treating an illness makes it linger. I reached out for help in 2013 and I began my climb back to the light. It felt as if I had climbed into a bucket and was being drawn from a well. I could finally see the light coming closer and closer. This process of being lifted out of the deep well has taken almost four years. I reread the book in 2015 and made some changes. I added to the bones and finally, I was happy. I sent it to edit again and republished it in 2016.
The Path of the Child was a labor of love. It was cathartic and it probably kept me going through a dark period where I had no desire to survive. I am a little connected to the book. No one knew this complete story. No one knows my history other than my family. But to see the story in its full disclosed history, was suddenly important to me today. Here in the Month of May during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Why do I see it as a beginning? It was when I realized there was really something terribly wrong going on inside my head. It was when I uprooted an entire family because I wanted to move. It was the beginning of me being in an area where I could find the help I had needed all my life. It was the beginning of the new me; the improved me.
When you read of Melanie, and her struggles, I hope you realize that if she can move past her problems, then so can you. That is what I gained from it. If you feel that, then Melanie and my efforts and disclosure are worthwhile.
The Path of the Child is listed as Young Adult because it is written with teenage characters and it has a message I believe teenagers will appreciate. The teens and adults that have read the book, for the most part, found it. They found the message inside, you can move past your own past. That is why I believe that The Path of the Child is a story that is appropriate for all ages.
So what do you do after you write an emotional book that has a message for everyone? You write another one, this time geared for children. Enter 2017 and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?