I stood behind an eight year old girl at our first book signing event as she read our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, to her friend. As I heard her gentle voice read the pages and saw her look lovingly at the illustrations, my eyes filled with tears. I had only heard myself and Heather Chalmers, my co-author read it aloud. My whole being became sure that the book we have created would be enjoyed by the very people for whom it was written–children.
Time stood still in that moment. I no longer heard the band, the lights seem to dim and I no longer heard the crowd around me. With my hands on my young friend Blue’s shoulders, I felt a childlike joy that has stayed with me since. Her little friend looked up at me with wide-eyed wonder and said pointing to the illustration of me with my dreadlocks, “Is that you?” I smiled and nodded. I knew in those precious moments that I was meant to write this children’s book.
I had been writing a literary fiction for over a year and was not far from completion of the first draft, when I found Libbie the rare yellow lobster in the supermarket that began the incredible journey of co-authoring a children’s book. Never had I imagined writing a children’s book. My novel is dark. It is the story of a young woman who suffers from mental illness and addiction. After several stays in a psychiatric hospital for attempted suicide she marries and has a child only to leave her husband and son in search of meaning and purpose. She finds herself even deeper into a dark, drug addicted world from which she barely escapes with any semblance of sanity. So how did this happen that I have co-authored a children’s book that is bright and happy and fun? What a dichotomy!
Perhaps my own incessant search for meaning and purpose is culminating in the incorporation of these two extremes of writing–one for children and the other releasing the dark side of myself which craves to be heard.
I wonder, do most writers experience themselves through their writing as I am doing?
Comments are welcome. What do you think? Why do you write?
And thank you for reading.