What kept me from losing it were my four beautiful kids, turning to my writing and the amazing charity I've connected closely to in the last couple of years.
For those of us who have written memoirs with heavier subject matter, the writing process is actually the easy part (if you can use that word with writing such books). What was difficult, at least for me, was the long editing process. Every round of new edits meant I had to re-read and experience those painful moments again. I found that so much more difficult because the writing process was drawing the feelings out and putting them somewhere safe other than in my mind and body. Editing meant that I not only had to go back to the words over and over again until they flowed they way they should, it also meant I had to relive each scene. Some days, and some scenes, it was tougher than I could bear.
But I had two things that gave me strength not to fall all the way down: a very supportive editing team over at Silver Boomer Books, who all gave me many cyber hugs, love and courage; and a charity that reminded me why I started on this journey in the first place.
By now, many of you know that I work very closely with a local charity called, Zebra Center. They are a Child Protection Center that helps children who have been abused or otherwise victimized get back on the paths they were meant to be on. I actually 'discovered' Zebra Center during my writing process. I spent alot of time talking and emailing with the CEO, Barbara. In fact, it was my talks with her and learning about what these amazing people do for these kids---who aren't so different from where I was so long ago---that gave me the final spark of courage I needed to get my story out there. Now it wasn't just for me that I was telling my story; it was for these kids (and others the Center hasn't found yet) who aren't able to tell theirs.
After White Elephants finally came out, I had a panic attack. "Oh my GOD!" I thought. "Now everyone is going to know what happened!" I felt like I was walking around naked. I was so terrified and emotionally stretched, I didn't have the energy to market the book. Then I finally got to visit the Center and everything changed.
When I walked around that place seeing the hand-drawn pictures from kids they've helped (or touched) framed up on the wall; when I felt the safety, love and sanctity in that place; when I not only heard but saw the passion Barbara and her team had for what they're doing; and when I got to see "Hope's Closet" up close, a soothing calm blanketed me. It was as though in that moment I just knew everything I was doing mattered. And that's what I draw from to keep going forward.
We have such an amazing opportunity to touch people with our writing. And when you can find that special charity or cause that you can connect your books or writing with, it makes it even more special. Some of us write about some very tough stuff, especially those of us in journalism or authoring personal essays and memoirs. Connecting with a charity, as I have with Zebra Center, also helps us see the issues we've survived through an entirely new perspective. A healthier view where we can use our experiences to help. How cool is that?
I'm not saying it's something writers have to do. But connecting with Zebra Center gave me a new perspective of what I went through and brought me full circle. If you can 'discover' a charity that fills your heart that way, embrace it. It keeps you grounded, keeps things real and may even help you work through something--personally or in your writing.
|Chynna collects books/journals for 'her kids' at Zebra Center.|