It was my first trip abroad in 32 years. For two months I wandered solo from Paris to the French countryside and attempted time-travel. In my computer was a half-completed novel called Looking Glass Girl.
I’ll start my story near the end, with a poem I wrote in the final days of my artist residency at Camac Centre d’Art in Marnay-sur-Seine, population 236.
The real story is that I struggled with my novel and its painful subject matter.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
I was ten when my librarian grandmother pulled from her suitcase a book called A Wrinkle in Time. It had a funny cover with silhouettes floating in circles. I’d seen it at school and it looked too science-fictiony for me.
It’s funny how a poem can capture a particular moment, so that when you read it years later that whole period of life comes back. Here’s one I wrote when my kids (now grown or nearly grown) were little. I’ve never shared it, since I didn’t consider it a “real” poem and probably intended to revise it. Here it is:
I should be rewriting a children’s story. It’s due today and my son has set a buzzer on the stove for when I have to leave for an afternoon meeting.
My WIP right now is a tough one, as it takes me back to a painful time in my life, and to relationships I’m still sorting out. Today in my story journal, I made two lists. One was “What I Believed Then;” the other was “What I Know Now.” I only want to share the second list, and I share it because I know I am not the only person to have grown up with mental illness in my household.