One of the themes last week in the comments as we discussed Looming Transitions is that while the focus is on times of transitions, even if you’re not in a transition, the ideas are applicable to staying well too. I agree! One of the lessons I learned in writing a book is that—and there just may be a life lesson in this—to be successful you need to focus.
In January on my blog I wrote the whole story behind the conception, death, and re-birth of Looming Transitions and the editing process of it being a more general book to focused on one specific transition. Instead of repeating it all here, read it here because I want to use this space to share a few stories I think you will appreciate.
Today we are discussing chapters 5, 6, and 7. Let’s discuss the content in the comments, here I want to share four thoughts I had or stories I remembered as I reread these chapters.
1. In chapter five in the weather part of the chapter, the person I mentioned is someone I met here in Velvet Ashes! I knew from comments she left that she and her family were going to experience this type of transition. I emailed her and asked if she’d be interested in reading what I’d written because up to that point only people who personally knew me and knew what I was trying to communicate had read it. I wondered if it made any sense to a slightly more removed reader.
So, the comment in the weather section was from our back and forth. I’d rework the chapter and email it to her. I think both of us are relieved and pleased that the editing process helped improved that rough draft to what you hold in your hands. When I reread this chapter, I thought of her and of you and how very much this book was born out of community.
2. Chapter six share four areas to know about yourself. Since the content of the book started out as a presentation I gave to people entering their last semester on the field, I had talked about pre- and post-grieving, but I had not written down my thoughts. In rereading this chapter I was back at my kitchen table in Beijing, writing it out. Here’s the scene:
Anne’s daughter Isabel is an extrovert with a capital E! She’s also smart as a whip, but doing some of her homeschooling work alone was not working out so well for her. For one of her math classes she would come to my apartment each afternoon at 1:00. We would talk over the math lesson and then she would do the homework exercises while I worked on the computer. Isabel is sitting on one side of the table working on math as I sit across from her typing out what it means to be a pre- and post-griever. Tears streaming because . . . hello, I’m writing about grief and saying goodbye.
Isabel looks up at me, and since a crying adult is probably more interesting than math, she wondered what I was working on. The book was written in so many different places and usually I was alone (duh), so it is all the more precious to me that I wrote about grief in the presence of part of my community. We talked about grieving and each of our styles and how she is more like her mom. We both went back to work. I love that I think of her too when I read that section.
3. I first wrote Start Early when both of my parents were alive. By the time I decided to pull the manuscript out and rework it in earnest, my dad had died. I wasn’t sure how to approach a passage that was written when someone was alive but they had since died. For the sake of the “story” it did not matter that he had died, so I left it as is. Also, for me personally, it seemed fitting that a book about transitions itself holds transitions. I have to say, when I wrote that section it never occurred to me that my dad would die as soon as he did. It is one of my life’s sadnesses that the book was published after his death, so I also left it as if he were alive because I know he would have been proud of me and how hard I worked on the book.
(And I am now having a hard time seeing the screen as I have thought about Anne, Isabel, and my dad and how much I miss having all three of them in my daily life.)
4. Also in the Start Early chapter is the part about organizing your belongings into six categories: sell, give away, throw away, store, buy, and move. My editor didn’t think “buy” belonged here because why would you buy items for a transition when you are giving away? Throwing away? That is why I put an endnote on “buy.” It was hard to explain to her that when you move from one world to another that is so different, you might not be able to buy the items you need—even if “need” here is need for your soul.
I decided to keep “buy” as a part of my list, but I think of her and the discussion we had each time I reread that part.
Well now, I’d be willing to bet you had your own thoughts stirred up as you read these chapters. See you in the comments, friends.
P.S. Next week we’ll finish the book with Chapters 8-10. I realized I’ve never publicly discussed the title and the journey it took from where it started to landing on LT and the subtitle. I’ll share that next week.
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