Thank you to Linda Hoye for inviting me to participate in this: My Writing Process Blog Tour. I was hesitant at first because lately I’m not feeling like a shining example of a dedicated writer. I also worried about getting three participants to willing to carry this forward, and then I got four!
I agreed because I so respect Linda and her work. I am so grateful to her for reading and reviewing Second-Chance Mother on the Story Circle Network website. That’s how we first connected, and then on Facebook. Then her book, Two Hearts, came out, and I knew I had found a kindred spirit. We met at the American Adoption Congress’ conference in Cleveland in April 2013, when we presented on a panel about the healing power of writing our stories.
In her own words, Linda is “a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat-fanatical grandma” whose work has appeared in an assortment of publications in Canada and the US. Many years ago someone advised her that she could allow circumstances to make her bitter or better. She chose a path of working toward releasing bitterness and focusing on gratitude for all she has gone through that shaped her into the woman she is today. She lives in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier.
She is an inspiration to all writers and I encourage you to check out her blog, A Slice of Life Writing. So, here goes… my answers to the blog tour questions. This may not be the most inspiring thing I can say to writers, but it’s honest.
- What am I working on?
This is hard for me to admit, because it makes me wonder if I am really a writer — or maybe just a one-hit wonder. I felt driven to write the story of my reunion with the son I gave up for adoption at 19 in 1970, and what happened once we met in 1996. Before that, I never considered that I would ever be a published author.
Since Second-Chance Mother came out, two years ago, I have devoted myself to marketing it — scheduling speaking engagements, participating in book fairs, promoting free Kindle downloads on Amazon. Not because I thought it would make me rich (all authors know that’s a pipe dream), But because I wanted to reach as many people as possible: mothers like me, adoptees, adoptive parents, and the general public, to educate them about the impacts of adoption and what might happen in reunion, to inspire them, because while it’s quite the roller coaster ride, the outcome can eventually be positive. I think I have accomplished that goal.
My readership is well into the thousands, maybe as high as 50,000, based on purchases and free Kindle downloads.
So, what am I working on, or in my case, considering working on? I have a number of decent short stories that just need fine-turning. I have a novel, based one my real-life experiences as a hippie on the road during the seventies. I started working on it while I was waiting for a publisher for my first book, but have slacked off on it since Second-Chance Mother got published. (It’s a novel instead of a memoir, because the truth isn’t all that exciting. Although I’ve been advised that since I have a following in memoir, I ought to do that.)
Bottom line: I haven’t devoted myself to working on anything for some time. My mojo left the building and I guess I need to chase it down.
- Why do I write what I do?
I want to write about things that are important to me. Adoption, being a mother of adoption loss, and adoption reform/opening records, has been high on my list, hence my book. I would like to distance myself from the adoption scene, write about something else. But it’s kinda like the Mafia. “I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in.” Without the force, of course. It’s my emotions and connection to the adoption community and the friends with that connection that I’ve met along the way, that keeps me in, wondering if there is more I should be doing.
On the other hand, I have lots more stories in my head. They are all motivated by some sort of personal experience in. Fiction is hard for me, unless it’s based in something I know. But I don’t think I want to go back to memoir. I revealed a lot of myself and my life in Second-Chance Mother. I don’t regret that. I just think that’s enough.
- How does my writing process work?
Ooh dawgies! I wish I had one.
I was still working (in my own business, so the hours varied) when I wrote Second-Chance Mother. I took every free moment to work on it, didn’t have set times, so sometimes it was in the afternoon when I had a break, and sometimes in the middle of the night. It was totally by the seat of my pants, no plan, no outlines, just emotions pushing me forward. Of course, it was a mess and I had to revisit it many times, with the help of many different readers and editors.
I’d taken lots of classes since, attended workshops, that encouraged plotting and outlining and all of that anal retentive stuff. (Sorry for that reference… I am actually quite AR in other aspects of my life.) But I don’t think I can do it that way. If an idea pops into my head, I just start typing.
One of my stories “The Last Tat,” came to me while visiting a friend in Southern California, when I saw the oil pumps I remembered from my youth. That’s all I had, except the feeling seeing them gave me. And it ended up being an award-winning story. I have to be driven. When I am, I’m unstoppable until the story is done. I hope I can get back to that.
And now… introducing the writers/bloggers that I would like to highlight:
Suz Bednarz: Writing My Wrongs
I consider Suz to be a good friend, even though we’ve yet to meet in real life. Hers was one of the first adoption blogs I found and I’ve been a dedicated follower for years. This woman can write! And rip open your heart… in a good way.
Suz surrendered her first born child to adoption in 1986 after a five-month stay in a maternity home, known as Gehring Hall, located one thousand miles from her family home. She has since founded ehbabes.com. The site and associated support group provides search, support and reunion assistance to those separated by the Kurtz network of agencies. She has successfully facilitated over 200 reunions for members of ehbabes.com, and like me, is a family preservationist and a supporter of adoptee rights and open records. In addition, she regularly raises funds to support organizations that help young women keep and raise their children.
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy: Musings of the Lame
A “professional rabble rouser and online activist” (I love it!) Claudia (or Claud, as she is often called) has been online and involved in the adoption community since 2001. She originally began independently researching adoption issues in preparation of the successful search and reunion with her own son, Max, whom was placed for adoption in 1987. Her blog has become a much-needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding.
I so admire her ability to stay on top of happenings in the world of adoption, her inexhaustible energy for the reform movement, and write consistently at length on these topics. After years of reading her, we finally met in San Francisco at the AAC Conference in April.
Duke and I met several years ago through our local chapter of the Society of Southwestern Authors and later when he joined the Green Valley Writers Forum, our local writing critique group. A retired English teacher and Library/Media Specialist, he is the author of several books, including two novels, a commissioned history, and a memoir.
He is currently working on a true crime expose of a yet-unresolved murder that occurred in the New Hampshire town where he and his wife once resided. He is my idol, so dedicated and prolific. He has become a great friend and the current president of our SSA chapter.
Linda is also a member our local writing group. And my friend.
She is working on an amazing memoir about her time as one of the first women firefighters in the Forest Service. Her writing explores this dangerous job, as well as the challenges of being a woman in what was traditionally considered a man’s job. Her Forest Service job ended abruptly in 1982, because of an injury. Since, she graduated from the University of Arizona in 1990 with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, and returned to UA in 1992 for a Masters Degree in planning, graduating in 1994. In 2001, she became a Registered Landscape Architect in Arizona. In 2004 she became a Certified Arborist. If you are interested in Southwest organic gardening, visit her other blog at: http://www.organicswgardening.com/