I’ve spent the last four year writing a book. I didn’t really intend to write it. It just kinda happened. In July of 2007, my husband David and I bought a motorhome, and after a few short outings, we decided to go for a longer trip. My 85-year-old parents, both of whom had dementia, were living with us at the time, so we took them with us. We set out in September on a seven-week adventure that provided plenty of writing material.
For reasons that I’ll never understand except that it sounded like a good idea at the time, I kept a journal. A couple of weeks into the trip, I mentioned my journal to Christian, my son the writer, and a book was born.
When I got home, I transcribed my handwritten notes onto the computer, edited for grammar and spelling, and was done – I thought. I asked a few friends to read it, and they liked it, but they all had suggestions. Add more of yourself and your feelings, tell more about the people in your family and how they became who they are, add scriptures to the beginning of each chapter. Then I showed it to Christian, and he started talking about things like writing to my target audience, making my writing more visual and dramatic, giving the readers an intimate look into my life.
Again, for reasons I’ll never understand, I didn’t throw up my hands in despair and turn my attention back to Sudoku and Solitaire. I wrote. Now, four years and 14 edits later, I have written A Long and Winding Road, A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. Christian has agreed to be my pre-editor, and I’m in negotiations with an agent who likes my work. I’ve learned about things like query letters and marketing plans, and I wrote a pitch for my story:
Dad stopped up the toilet again, Mom’s wet again, my head hurts, David’s hungry, and we haven’t found an RV park for the night. Not exactly the retirement we dreamed of. We envisioned motorcycling across America, camping in the mountains, sharing our morning coffee on a sailboat. Sometimes reality really bites. Alzheimer’s wrapped Mom’s brain in knots, vascular dementia attacked Dad, and instead of carefree retirees, we became caregivers. But dreams die hard, and in September of 2007, we bought a 40-foot motorhome, and all four of us set out on a 16-state trek across the southern US. We had adventures and misadventures, we learned the idiocyncracies of an RV we had owned for less than two months, we discovered how much stress a 2-inch stress pin can put on a marriage, and we had a close encounter with a grass fire. We experienced the joys and trials of caring for the two people who gave me life and the heartbreak of watching them slowly slip away. Who are these people, and how did we get to this point in our lives? Spending 53 days with them in less than 400 square feet answered a lot of questions.
Now I don’t know what to do with myself, so I’m doing what every other would-be writer does these days. I’m blogging. A lot has changed in the last four years. Mom and Dad moved into an assisted living facility last December, and Dad passed away in May. I’ve developed heart issues and a slow-moving form of leukemia called CLL, and David and I have moved from Florida back to Texas. Looks like I have lots more writing material. Check back from time to time and see what’s going on.
UPDATE: On January 10, 2014 I signed a publishing agreement with Anaiah Press. A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos will be published July 1, 2014.