I think we all have them. We’ve all experienced a terrible year, where a life event can shake you to the core and leave you totally disorientated. I was always worried about it happening. I never quite expected the outcome when it did.
2014 began with such promise. I’d secured my first book deal the year before. I was to be a published author. I spent most of the early months, editing and fine tuning my new book. I felt so happy. So relieved. Finally, things were going as I hoped they would. I would be an author, everything would be good.
And then suddenly, tragically, in May the same year – my father died.
There are no words to describe the feelings or the deep loss that I immediately felt. This was the man that I announced all my news and gossip to. This was a man I laughed and moaned with on a regular basis. This was a man who understood me at times better than I understood myself. And now he was gone, leaving my whole family bereft. And I was left with a great, gaping wound, without a clue how it would ever heal.
The weeks that passed are lost to me now. I wrote a eulogy. I sat listening to his music. I sank into a lonely and unforgiving place. Staring at my computer, I’d look at words that I’d once written and they now looked lost to me, foreign. I no longer wanted to write. I didn’t think I’d be able to again.
Then one day I remember being curled on a chair, quite childlike – watching my children play, finding some peace in their normal behaviour. My mind began to wander and words began to form. I guess it was my imagination kicking in again. It was like the slow glimmers of heat returning.
Thankfully we went on holiday a few months later, to a place so remote and peaceful – I could finally find myself begin to unwind and relax. Perhaps it helped that there were no memories there, that I could just focus on the moment. I made myself no promises. I wasn’t expecting to be creative, I still felt so raw inside – but somehow the words started to flow on my notebook. Back home I began to type, fast and ruthless.
Book two began to swamp and surround me like a great, warm security blanket. In my characters I could focus on other matters, on other concerns. My brain was rested from my grief, albeit briefly. I played my Dad’s classical music again – but this time it swept me up and comforted me. I wrote Crush with a sense of relief and purpose. I wouldn’t stop writing. In fact I couldn’t stop. This was natural and cathartic. It helped me to heal.
And thank goodness I didn’t stop – because it was the best therapy I could’ve ever had. And as a result, my next book is extremely special to me. I think it always will.
Meanwhile, my new tradition of writing to classical, restful music continues – that way I feel a little bit of my Dad is with me, nodding his approval and tapping along gently with the beat.