Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm Upset With my Sister-in-law

Last night we had a traumatic experience involving Hannah's food allergies. No emergency room trip was involved, but the event has spurred several conversations amongst family members. This afternoon on the phone, my sister-in-law, Krista, and I rehashed the events surrounding the incident last night. I mentioned blogging about the event. And then she got "all up in my kool-aid".

She said that the information and experience I had as a mother of a child with food allergies was important and I needed to write about it. And that while my blog was entertaining, a wider audience needs this information. Then she used that burdensome word "gift". And there was something else about freelance and parenting magazines. She also mentioned my experiences as a mother of a child with Bipolar and so on.

Since we hung up, I've been preoccupied. Krista's comments have made me uncomfortable. I have that churning, exhilarating, exhausting thing happening in my gut. I feel like Frodo the moment he knew he had to leave the Shire. I'm in that part of most movies where there is a pivotal moment in the character's psyche when he knows/accepts a coming change. This is the part where inspirational music plays and I tear up and time is compressed as Rocky gets in shape and Nemo's dad decides he will stop at nothing to find his son.

Many things have nudged me toward this moment in my development. I've always been a storyteller and have enjoyed engaging those who have been willing to listen to me. I have felt stirrings of recognition as I've read others' writings: I have a voice like this. My favorite teacher told me she looked forward to reading my first book someday.

I once dreamed of being a freelance writer. My imagination fancied myself an unwashed, bath-robed mother of many, mopping up orange juice from my recently finished manuscript. I saw a woman dedicated to her family but who had something she absolutely must share with the world at large. But I had no idea what on Earth that woman wanted to say.

I started writing for myself and joined a group for creative writers in college. It was so nice to be around others who wrote. But the professor in charge said some very hurtful and damaging things about my writing. They weren't just editorial suggestions but personal attacks on my religion and choice of subject, on the value of my writing at all. I hope he was using some misguided approach to improve my writing. What it did, instead, was to quell my desire to write for anything but the assignments necessary to earn my degree.

Thanks to the Internet and such weirdly specific discussion forums as "Crunchy Christian Mamas" and parents who homeschool children with Bipolar Disorder, I began to write again. I found a loyal group of readers and fellow journeyers at simple living forum where I wrote about and discussed our family's transition to whole foods.

The changes wrought by our diet have been so phenomenal that several people have suggested I write a book. John's therapist insists we should write together how diet has affected John's stability. I know our personal story is a compelling one. One friend questions each time I send her a long email when my novel is coming out. About the time I dismiss her comments as joking, she writes an email to say she really means it and believes I should write a book.

My cousin, Molly, wrote a book and I find myself impressed and a little jealous. She's living my dream, including the many children (well, I don't actually know about the bathrobe). I've yet to read her book. I need to order it. But I've been supremely impressed by her insights on her blog and some of her other writing.

The time that I spent quieted by a sharp-tongued teacher has not been dark. I have been observing and participating in most of my dream. I've developed new dreams and goals in addition. I've encountered challenges I did not anticipate. I have a wealth of life and commentary about that life to share. And I'm finding that my voice refuses to keep its peace.

Krista's kind but piercing and convicting words today have inevitably tipped the scales as their weight is added to the weight of those aforementioned comments. During that conversation, she may or may not have recalled that some of our earliest interactions (years before I met and later married her brother) were as fellow journalists on a middle school newsletter. I certainly know she's been a "victim" of my commentary on all sorts of topics from homeschooling to vaccination to marriage. She knows I have a voice. And I thank her for using hers to let me know and for screwing up my comfortable writing-just-on-the-internet life.


Carissa said...

And Krista, we all thank you!
Holly - once the book is written and published, just think: you'll have the perfect gift for the next year's round of birthdays, anniversarys, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc. for all your friends and family!

Angela (HsvScrapGirl) said...

How is Hannah? How bad was her reaction and do you know what triggered it? Sorry, that is where my concern lies.
I understand where you are coming from, sort of. I keep debating if I should submit some of my food allergy scrapbook pages for publication. I post them and share our experiences on a couple of message boards. This has helped raise awareness but I keep thinking about the audience that I would have if I actually got just one of them published in a magazine. Keep us posted on when your book is going to be published. ;-) I know it will be a New York Times Best Seller.