Friday, July 31, 2009


I can thank my aunt for the serious interest my second manuscript, Drain, is generating. She'd been telling me, Write What You Know.

My first book was about everything I didn't really know: boys, Division I recruiting, crime. It was interesting to write, and I had a focused macroperspective, but I had to talk to a lot of boys, especially athletes, and coaches, and judges, and probation officers, and criminals to be able to deliver it.

Afterwards, I wrote Drain during the hardest three months of my life. Of Daney's life.

Newly diagnosed with epilepsy, the nine-year-old had launched into a long serious of daily grand-mal seizures. She was ambulanced and hospitalized and tested and treated. And even with the medicine, she's had two more seizures.

Now, Dave and I are not strangers to tragedy. Since we were 18, we've pulled each other through deaths and sickness and surgeries and other things that will wait for another post.

But this one killed me; I couldn't get past seeing Daney shake and stop breathing.

My writing group let me take two weeks off. And when I came back, crying, with Daney all loaded up with books and sketch pads and Calico Critters because I couldn't let her out of my sight, they gave me seven days to return with something.

I told them there was no way.

But the next Wednesday, I brought Daney again. And the first few pages of Drain.

I didn't really know what I was writing: the story of a Seer. Her voice was hollow. She was all alone, despite all the people around her. She suffered over not being able to change things.

It was starting to sound pretty familiar.

I didn't know what I was writing, but I was Writing What I Knew.

Next time, I would love to write a quirky book: lighthearted and funny.

It's not in me right now.

But it will be.


Paul Ă„ertker said...

WWYK. Yeah I'm with you on that one! I write about boys, travel, and crime... things I know well!?!

Sarah said...

That's great advice: "Write what you know." I think it helps the writing sound and feel more authentic and it's also sort of therapeutic for the writer. Or for me, anyway.

Christy Raedeke said...

You make your writing groupd sound pretty harsh! Were we that bad?!?

I hadn't realized the parallels until just now too. Interesting.

The fact that you wrote an MS in 3 months still kills me...

Viva Drain!

Jennie Englund said...

No, you weren't harsh. It was just what I needed: a different focus.

THANK you!

And, you girls showed ME the parallels!

Have a great reunion!!!

Jennie Englund said...

True, Sarah. If only we remembered that during crises!

And Paul, why do your posts always make me giggle?

Robin said...

It sounds like YOU are the only one who could write that story. Keep at it!!!

And then I can't wait to see your lighthearted funny stuff when you're in that place.