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Writing About Writing: A Peek into an Author's Life

By Theresa Anthony, author of In Search of Gopher Hollow

Today I decided it was time to catch up on the mundane chores that I tend to ignore, one of them being to tidy up my disaster of an office. My “workshop” is where I spend most of my waking hours Monday through Friday. It’s where I write content for my various clients, create jewelry and décor items for my Etsy shop, and where I recently penned my third book, In Search of Gopher Hollow.


While I was toiling in the office, I found myself reflecting on my writing career. Believe it or not, I wrote my first freelance article all the way back in 1996 for The Orange County Register … back when you had to type it out on real paper and then snail mail it to the editorial department. I was elated when they decided to publish my little 600-word piece – and even paid me for it!


For the next sixteen years I wrote guest columns for an array of publications, sharing my musings on just about any topic you can think of. Then in 2012, I just stopped writing. My son was very ill, fighting multiple afflictions, and all my energy was focused on helping him.


After his death in October 2013, I took a position as a staff writer for a behavioral health company where I could use my writing skills to hopefully help others who battled addiction and/or mental health disorders like my son. The following year, in 2015, I decided to go it alone and I started my content writing business.


It was in mid-2018 that I decided to write my first book, a memoir about my son’s journey. This was a huge undertaking, and it about turned me inside out emotionally. Trust me, becoming an author is not the cool, esoteric experience one might conjure up. Writing a book is very hard work, and even more so when the subject matter is sad.


Memoir writing is similar to an excavation or a mining project. With an imaginary pick and shovel, you dig away at the layers of memories, unearthing some gems that you are excited to write about, while also discovering some buried, cringe-inducing memories that were buried for a reason. What the heck, I wrote about those, too. After all, my newest memoir is an examination of my life, so of course it would have to include the good, the bad, and the ugly if it was to be relatable.


Writing memoirs is a very personal and revealing endeavor, for sure. You feel naked as a jaybird, actually. It takes guts to put it all out there for public consumption because there’s no hiding behind fictitious characters like novelists get to do. So, then why do it? Why bother writing my life story? After all, what makes me think anyone would even give a hoot about my small little life? I am just a regular middle-class gal, a nobody really, so why go to all the trouble to write a book?


The truth is, I wrote each of my three books with one single intent: that they might in some small way be of help to others. Navigating the grief journey is no piece of cake, trust me. Grieving a significant loss is shockingly difficult – challenging beyond belief. It is resplendent with unpredictable twists and turns, like the unprovoked grief bombs that suddenly bring you to tears just standing in line at Walmart.


I write my books to provide readers with firsthand accounts of real-life experiences that they might relate to as well. In so doing, readers find in me a kindred spirit, someone who is willing to be open and honest while sharing about my pain, which sadly is often their pain, too.


Mostly though, I write to offer some hope. When someone is deep in the throes of grief, they truly do not believe they will survive it. Heck, in my case I didn’t want to survive it, that’s how much pain I was in. But guess what, I did survive. And I figure if I can survive all the losses I have experienced in my life, then others can, too.


And that’s why I write books about my small little ordinary life. To offer others a ray of hope.


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