Okay this is a vent post on my work in progress It Chose Three.
I am one of five kids. One of my siblings is a twin sister. My twin and I are the youngest.
I grew up watching all three of my sisters be diagnosed with a genetic disease that deteriorates their central vision and causes them to become legally blind. The deterioration caused by Stargardt Disease can start at a very early age. The struggles, the fights, the reality checks, the change in relationships that came from these diagnoses one after the other was difficult. I’m trying to put my survivor’s guilt in a book to encourage the sibling. The sibling on the sideline watching it all unfold. The sibling who doesn’t have to be dragged to specialists, treated differently, or adjust their life around a disability. The sibling who quietly wonders why not me?
This book is autobiographical, but not an autobiography. Which means, I get to flub some timelines, insert some things that didn’t exactly happen but sum up the struggles my sisters have, and generally make the book something that’s more snazzy to read than an autobiography (though I am absolutely someone who loves autobiographies!). I call it “Hollywoodizing my life.”
The biggest and hardest blow in writing this book came from my wonderful class at Hollins University, taught by dear Claudia Mills whom I cherish. I had three other amazing students with me in the class and we became close during our struggles editing and critiquing our manuscripts together. All four of them saw me write, rewrite, rewrite again the beginning of the book over and over again because I just could not get the story out. One thing they all brought up was how difficult it was for me to try and fit my brother, who was also not diagnosed, into the story. It made the story unfocused and took some of the heaviness of my own journey away.
Do you know how hard it is to write a sibling out of a book that is autobiographical? It sucks, and it stumped me for a long time. I suppose this is part of why I’m still having such a hard time. These lines between what I need to stick to and what can go are so difficult to negotiate.
It has been a few years and after some distance I picked the book up again. I reminded myself of CeCe Bell’s encouragement, which I wrote about here, and got to work. I took some things out, fixed some things, and then asked another dear friend to be a beta reader.
I am so very thankful for the really incredible insight Ross gave me and it helped a great deal. It’s always helpful if you have someone to take a look at your work with fresh eyeballs if you are stuck.
But I am still stuck. I am frustrated. I am angry. I am tired.
I don’t know what’s working. I don’t know if anyone cares. I don’t know if I will ever reach anyone. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this work matters.
And I just. Don’t. Know. How to write my life.
What should I keep in? What is only important to me but won’t impact anyone else? What fight really matters for the world to see? How true to these fights should I be?
Where is the line between the truth of what exactly happened and the spirit of that truth?
The struggle of a writer …
Honestly getting this out is helping, and while I’m tempted to erase all of this and post a much happier blog about how awesome I am, these moments are the raw struggles of being an author and I’m not going to hide it.
So, what am I going to do?
I’m gonna dry my tears, stop my venting … and get to work.
Thanks for listening.