Pen Therapy


My first novel was written on a dare.  I was in the (small) corporate world, and writing dry press releases, web pages, and white papers.  I hadn’t thought about fiction writing in three years when, freelancing and raising kids, I dabbled in a novel that I cannot find anywhere now.

In 2007, after 14 years, my marriage was seriously tanking. I was knee deep in having to decide if I could stay married to someone who wasn’t on the same team.  I was tired of having three boys (counting him) to raise/manage. But I wasn’t ready to bail.   I was terrified of being alone.  My kids were 8 and 5 and I had gone back to work in 2005 after a 2.5 year hiatus. And I’d gone back to work because I knew I needed financial freedom to do anything, no matter what that choice was.

Then in June of 2007, a coworker said, “I bet you could write a whole book about a woman on an elevator.”  Click.

I wrote three pages. Showed them to her. “Then what happened?” She grinned at me.  A year and 380 pages letter, Black Hole: a Novel was done.

But the process was not pretty.  It took me over a year to finish it and over seven years to convert it to Kindle.  Along the way, I got lost in it. It was like a relationship and I committed to it. I listened to dialogue at Starbucks while getting coffee on Fridays.  I listened at airports and in grocery stores. I wrote down ideas on scraps of paper in my purse. I bought a Dictaphone.  I took virtual tours of Las Vegas. I virtually test drove a Mercedes so that I knew the car in the book.  I found journals from 2006 and recounted my trip to Tuscany. I stayed up some nights until 2 am writing. I had my distraction. I lived vicariously through this character. And sometimes she really pissed me off and for days I would abandon the book and wait for her to come around to my way of thinking.

My husband and I went into marriage counseling. It lasted three visits.  He didn’t like what the guy said.  I asked him to move out.  He did.  My sons clung to me, but adapted. I cried daily in my small master bathroom.  I lost 17#, and I could not sleep. My emotions won and I could not shut them off.  I entered a loony bin briefly in April of 2008 (I can almost laugh about this now) and was diagnosed with Situational Depression.

You think?

The novel waited.

I knew my marriage had to end to keep my sanity.  My job, my friends and my family propped me up.  I rediscovered my book and started writing again.  My divorce was final.  I met a man.  A man who was nothing like any man I’d ever met. He lived 2500 miles away, which made him less scary.  When I got scared, he waited it out.  When we met in person, in, of all places, Las Vegas in October of 2008, he took me to the places in my book.  His even keel grounded me.

I edited the book and in November of 2008 published it myself in paperback. I bought 25 copies and left them on planes and gave them to friends and family.

Now, it’s 2014. I married the man. I moved to CA. My kids like him. My ex and I are civil. And the novel?  It’s converted to Kindle format. The sequel is on my mind and partially done.

The thing I cannot get off my mind is now life truly imitated art:  The book moved my life to its next chapter.  It was, indeed, a therapist.  It helped me close a door and open another, find my voice, which had been silenced so long by someone who wanted to change me.