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  • lesaboutin

Writing My Way Out of the Darkness

I started this site in fall of 2019. I’d been having fun creating some videos and decided to share them here. But within a short time, my life, as well as the rest of the world’s, would change. But it was more than the pandemic for me.

Later in that year, I discovered a health problem and learned I would need surgery. Although it would require some major reconstruction, it wasn’t life threatening. So, I put it off until spring break to accommodate my writing residencies. Then came the pandemic.

I was lucky in that my procedure was the week before the hospital stopped taking elective surgeries. It went well, and I was soon home for the 6-week recovery period. There would be little interruption to my routine. I was on target to teach creative writing camp like I did every summer. But the pandemic slowly shut down anything like that, and when schools didn’t start back in the fall, I found myself on unemployment and at a loss as to what to do. Then I had the idea to try something new—literary agency interning. After all, I had plenty of time to read.

Having written for and with children for more than 15 years, it was an adjustment to read adult fiction and nonfiction, but I loved it. I learned so much from my time there. Especially since I’d only ever been on the other side of the table, the one querying agents. Everything I’d ever heard agents say about the amounts of submissions and the selection process suddenly made sense. That experience really did refine my reading and evaluating skills.

Then my husband was diagnosed with a very advanced stage 4 cancer, and I left the internship to take care of him. We’d known for a while something was wrong, but the doctors he was seeing insisted his weight loss was from his diabetes. But when the pain started, he found another doctor and learned the worst. It was so progressed that they couldn’t even tell where it originated or what kind it actually was. We didn’t know the importance of that in treating cancer. I just thought cancer—chemo. But that’s not how it works.

This is not the time or place I wish to talk about that period in our life. I’m not ready for that yet. But I will say writing brought me out of the darkness. I wrote a middle grade manuscript during those sleepless nights. I had to focus on something or go mad. The novel is magical realism, which was something I’d never done before, and it got me through. At least until he passed away 6 months later, and I ran away from home.

I refuse to judge myself or be judged by others in my choice to move to another state shortly after his death. In the 35 years we were together, he supported me in everything I ever did. This would have been no different. So, I did what I had to do for myself. And it’s helped. I’ve since gotten beyond his birthday and our anniversary, which were on the same day, and now I’m moving past Christmas and the new year. And I decided what better way to do it than write my way out of the darkness once more. Here. On this blog.

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