In 2004, I volunteer-taught an ESL class with the Ponca City Area Literacy Council in North Central Oklahoma. After each class, I went to a nearby diner on the corner of Grand and 5th, and sat down to write in my journal about my dear friend. I was severely depressed and angry that she was dying when it was me who didn’t want to live.
I asked for a cup of coffee and wrote my depression away, stopping only to refuel with a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Then I walked the three or so miles to my house at the other side of town. Later in the day, when all chores were done and my young son was already in bed, I typed the handwritten pages into my computer and saved in a file with a working title.
When I had about 50 pages written, I sent it via snail mail to a friend of mine in Florida, who said the material had potential, but it looked like a breed between a long letter and an undergraduate thesis. Although my writing was good for an English language learner, it still needed work. (It still does.)
I started again in 2013 with a stronger sense of direction. I read and listened to what other writers said about how to organize writing, from filing, to researching, to drafting. For me, writing became a painful and interesting process, which started with my writing teacher giving a prompt and ended with me crying and blowing my nose with a Kleenex in the psychiatrist office. Did I mention that I write from trauma?
I completed the first draft of “I Asked the Blue Heron” in the summer of 2014. Along came another blow and another relocation. Again the manuscript went into the back burner for a while.
Today the manuscript is only a few edits away from its final version. It feels like I’m 36th weeks pregnant and about to pop. I’m nervous and hot, can barely sleep, but I’m happy to give birth to another baby in the fall this year, when I will publish “I Asked the Blue Heron, A Memoir.”