This is one of the most challenging points in writing any narrative: how to move from an idea, or an initial jotting of an intriguing snippet on to a sustained inscribing of the narrative. It’s so tenuous! With Bloodroot, I did something instinctively: I begin writing anything that came to mind about the last year of my mother’s life in a notebook that fit into my pocket.
I hadn’t any intention of writing a memoir. I did the notation because it helped me to have some place to deposit my thoughts, memories and feelings. For six months, the notebook was always in the pocket of whatever clothing I was wearing. I wasn’t selective: I wrote down everything that came to mind: bits of dialogue, others’ responses to my experience, images, medical details, poetic lines and metaphors, ways I comforted myself practically and spiritually.
One day, when it was almost full, I began my work routine: sat down at my laptop to do final edits on a suite of poems in What Holds Us Here. But, something else happened. A prose piece began writing itself. It was about my mother. Odd. But, understandable – I was still grieving – so, I gave myself to it. Assuming it was just something I needed to “get off my chest” (as my mother used to say), I went on to manuscript revisions.
Next day, the same thing happened. Next day: ditto. It was bewildering. I wasn’t certain what to make of it. On the forth day it shifted. I went into my office. Sat down. Booted up my laptop then suddenly felt forcefully pushed away not only from my laptop but my very office itself. Wandering around my house, eventually it became clear that I felt a calm and clarity when I sat on my sofa and wrote by hand in an old folder my father had given me.
As soon as I shifted my inscription routine to this modality and setting, Bloodroot took off: I could hardly keep up with it! Each morning this became my rhythm: Inscribing Bloodroot by hand on my sofa; each afternoon – working on my laptop in my office on What Holds Us Here.