Writing has always been a crucial outlet for me. Before there were blogs I carried a journal everywhere and used it to sort out daily confusions and write little stories. The blank books I scribbled in had to be beautiful and bound, able to fit in a small bag and the pages had to be blank, not lined. Allowing myself the freedom to write however I wanted about anything I felt like was great training for me.
Publishing my idle writing here has become a habit as well. I still use it to sort through life, but it’s also a place for me to try things. This year I’m hoping to publish a lot of short fiction here, rough ideas for my next book. Having just finished my second book, which took five years, I am grateful to have a place to shoot out short pieces, including observations, poems, short stories and even book reviews. Often the writing focuses on death and the grieving process, but mostly the reason I call it “Drawing on Grief” is because I feel much of my best writing comes from sadness, or the poignant aspects of living.
In 2011 I published my first book, called “Dancing with the Midwives: A Memoir of Art and Grief.” (dancingwiththemidwives.com) It’s about a still birth, and incorporates poetry and drawing as well as prose. I see it as an art project made alongside the grieving process, and it was unquestionably the best medicine I could have devised for that period in my life.
I am hoping to publish my second book, Four Summers Left, in 2015. It’s an autobiographical story about a girl approaching adolescence while her mother is dying of cancer. It focuses on their relationship but it’s also about how the family, the doctors and their community deal with the mother’s impending death. I am excited about it and I hope it will shed light on an experience that taught me a lot.
I teach drawing classes, lead meditation groups and periodically I offer workshops on grief and creativity. This blog is about my process as a writer, an artist and someone who enjoys helping people grow to appreciate their grief.