Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Writing Life: “I Wrote This Book Because...” by Myfanwy Collins

Myfanwy Collins is a writer. She is also a wife, a mother, and a person. Those four things are not mutually exclusive. As it is with all of us, the many tendrils of our lives become increasingly tangled the longer we walk this earth and take on more responsibilities. I don't know Myfanwy the mother, the wife, or the person (we've never met and have only briefly corresponded by email), but I do know Myfanwy the writer--and that is all I need to know today. I'm a regular reader of her blog and she recently posted several thoughts on writing and publishing which resonated with me. With her permission, I'm honored to share her blog posts here at The Quivering Pen this week, starting today with a combination of two different essays, ”I Wrote This Book Because...” and ”Arrival, Gratitude.” Myfanwy wrote these words on the occasion of the publication of The Book of Laney, her new novel, but you should also check out her earlier books: the novel Echolocation and the short story collection I Am Holding Your Hand.

I wrote this book because we live in a sometimes horrible and often beautiful world.

I wrote this book because I did not want you to feel so alone.

I wrote this book because four boys in the town where I used to live used their collective rage, boredom, and feelings of worthlessness to turn the lives of another family into the thing of nightmares.

I wrote this book because I am raising a son.

I wrote this book because when I was a young person I used to feel very alone.

I wrote this book because of all of the strong women who raised me up.

I wrote this book because I felt like I was the only one who was not normal when I was a kid.

I wrote this book because when I was younger there were times when I wished I would die.

I wrote this book because once I learned how to live inside someone else’s skin, I saw the world more clearly.

I wrote this book because I felt powerless.

I wrote this book because I felt powerful.

I wrote this book because I wanted you to read it and know that it’s not just you who feels the way you do.

I wrote this book because I love my family.

I wrote this book because I want a better future.

I wrote this book because that is what I do.

I wrote this book because we are all in this together.

I wrote this book because people let me know they believed in me.

I wrote this book because I believe in you.

*     *     *

I started writing this book five years ago, in the winter. I started writing it after a long, dry spell of not writing much. I started writing it during the times when my then-toddler napped.

I remember I would get him down to sleep and then bring my laptop into my room and sit on the lumpy chair and force myself to write 500, 1000, 1500 words at time. Then I would write beyond that. I would write and write until he woke up.

As always, I wrote in a fury. I wrote when that not-so-carefully patched up thing within me busted open again.

I started writing this book out of a sense of desperation and loss. I felt I had something to say about how hard it is to grow and survive and to learn how to thrive and be self-reliant. But it took me quite a few drafts to get to exactly the place where it is now. The place where it says just what I want it to.

Not everyone is going to love this book. Not everyone is even going to like it. Some people may even hate it. Some people will be put off by hard truths. Others may feel I don’t go deep enough into the truth. But the reactions of these readers are now beyond my control.

And thanks to my editor, Andrew Scott, and my publisher, Victoria Barrett, and thanks to Penn Whaling and Ann Rittenberg and the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency, and thanks to my husband for his faith in me and my child for his unwavering certainty that his mommy is the best (and thanks to him for taking those naps back then as well) and thanks to all those many people who have believed in me and supported me all these years, this book lives today.

As soon as this book hits your hands, it is no longer mine but ours. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Myfanwy Collins lives on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband and son. Her work has been published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Cream City Review, Quick Fiction, and Potomac Review. Her debut novel Echolocation was published by Engine Books in 2012. I Am Holding Your Hand, a collection of her short fiction, is available now from [PANK] Books. The Book of Laney, a Young Adult novel, is now out from Lacewing Books. Click here to visit her website.

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