It’s been a while. A lot has happened. After a concerted push, I finished the first draft of my novel Blues and was excited when an agent loved its concept and asked me to send her a sample. I waited for her response. I waited some more, trying to guess whether the ‘delay’ (does 6 weeks constitute a delay in the publishing world?) in hearing back was a good or bad sign.
But by the time I did hear back, it didn’t even matter – even though the book has been on my mind fairly non-stop (can ‘non-stop’ be modified?) for the last two years. By the time I received the agent’s encouraging-but-ultimately-negative reply, my (talented, velvet-voiced) daughter had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Seeking representation for Blues would only have proven a distraction from the really important stuff. Plus, its subject-matter – of a woman’s desperate search for her ‘lost’ daughter- was slightly too close to my detached, 1960s home for psychological comfort.
My book may see the light of day again if times become brighter, but for now my inclination is to wrap it up with a pretty ribbon and file it in my ‘maybe one day’ drawer.
For some weeks, I couldn’t write. I didn’t have much energy left over from the considerable task of stopping myself from drowning. If I managed to feel anything at all, it was that writing would make a mockery of the seriousness of my daughter’s situation – a futile attempt to hold back a tidal wave of desperation.
But, as I learn the new language of chemo and all that comes with parenting a sick teenager, writing has thrown me a make-shift (probably somewhat holey) life-belt. My notebook is starting to fill, like an occluded drip,with witterings and words.
Like my daughter’s wayward cells, they don’t yet have a shape or a determined purpose. But they make me feel something – which, for the moment, feels better than nothing. And the words which find their way to the page feel necessary.
Maybe one day.