I just finished watching “The Stranger Beside Me”, a movie made from Ann Rule’s book of the same name. I read the book years ago and loved it. If this title is new to you, then run yourself right down to the bookstore and pick it up. It tells about Ann’s struggle to become a true crime writer while a friend of hers is jailed for murder. Her friend’s name? Ted Bundy.
While Ann’s connection with Bundy seems like gold to a writer, I’m sure that she would have given anything to avoid such a terrible situation. But she couldn’t. The situation was there, and if she is anything like most writers that I know, writing is perhaps the best way to process it.
Fiction is my true love, and always will be. But lately I find myself foraying into the world of personal essays. My son was born with a genetic syndrome that I was, quite frankly, unprepared to deal with at the time. Through the years I have battled medical emergencies, physical abuse in the school system, and mouthy jerks on the street. I jettisoned the people who made our life more difficult and built relationships with those who make it wonderful. When I write an essay about our experiences, I can see how far we’ve come. It helps me put it into words. I know there are a group of strong parents whose children are going through the exact same thing.
We’ve also lost one triplet and know that, without a doubt, we will lose another. There’s grief in such knowledge, but there is also strength. I know that the triplets will no longer be Winkin, Blinken, and Nod. There will be a single baby. But I hope there will be a few brief minutes where I will hold both of my girls and tell them how much I love them before the one passes. I know she’ll be extremely disturbing to look at. I’m prepared for the nurses to look away. I’m prepared to kiss her broken face because it is infinitely precious to me. I’m sure I’ll write about it when the time comes. I don’t know any better way to cope.
There will be many more difficult things to write. We all have so many stories to tell, so many horrors that we’ve stood up to and faced. Don’t sanitize your work. Don’t take the difficult parts out because it’s too painful to write. Sometimes the only way out is through. These things make us strong, and they make our work shine. And it’s all about the shine.