I’ve owned cats my entire life, usually more than one at a time. Currently, a cold has been romping across my house, infecting each of the felines inside with a nasty virus that makes them sneeze and wheeze for days on end. Humidifiers are taking up every corner, turning the rooms unnaturally warm for February. (My skin, however, looks great.) Adorable but tragic little sneezing fits wake me up in the middle of the night, and I find myself sitting up in bed holding one of my little girls until she feels comforted enough to go back to sleep, annoyed by the disturbance coming from within her.
Despair comes as easily as breathing. Unless you are one of my cats, that is.
I’ve spent the past few weeks revising the rough draft of my next novel, sectioned away from the fires raging outside for most of the days. Most, but not all.
At points when the despair becomes too much to handle, that inner voice asking in a whiny tone “Who would read this? Who would like it? Why would you write that?” I turn away from my words and look at the news to reground my feet. And there’s plenty of news these days.
When everything else overwhelms, artists make art. Yet, so many are berated for this course of action. What good will art do in times like this? To paraphrase JK Rowling’s tweet, we’re making kindling.
As I look down the path ahead, trying to make out the next section of the road through the branches that are blocking my way, I have to recall the past to understand what it means to be standing where I am today. Tomorrow will mark the three-year anniversary of my diagnosis with the autoimmune disease A.S. I ignored it for the better part of those three years until I couldn’t. Then I decided to make something out of it.
Three months ago I realized that the story I was writing had taken on a deeper meaning, more than I had anticipated. What started out as a way to express struggles that are not touched upon in current pop culture took an unexpected turn, and I found that I had created a horcrux of sorts with this book. So much soul and passion went into this story that the next step of querying to publishing houses and agents feels like exposing a raw nerve. That is how I know I did something right.
If fires are to ignite, the kindling better be of good stock.