"Write what you know." That's the advice I was given as a beginning author, and it's still worth sharing. But what about when it's something you don't WANT to know? Something you'd rather forget?
I tackled domestic violence today.
I'm finishing the fourth book in my Kiki Lowenstein series. "Make, Take, Murder" is under contract, scheduled for Spring 2011 publication, and I'm ahead of deadline, a situation devoutly to be wished by my fellow authors. You'd think I'd be celebrating, but I'm not. Finishing this book has been hard going because as I write, I'm revisiting a part of my history. A part of my life I've struggled to put behind me. A memory I'd rather not have.
I grew up in a violent home. I've rarely admitted that. I've usually brushed right over it. The truth is, such an admission is both shaming and embarrassing. There's a tawdry feeling to saying, "My dad hit my mother. Then he started on me." There's a bitterness lingering on my tongue and a clenching in my gut and my throat, well, it aches.
I've never really written about this before. I don't look like the stereotype of an adult child from an abused home. I live well, I married well, and I am happy. So, sharing this sordid secret in conversation always takes people off guard. I quit doing so years ago. I didn't want people's pity; I wanted them to understand where I was coming from.
And where exactly is that?
A place I don't want to revisit.
But recently, over the Christmas holidays, my sister and I were talking to our children, and the subject came up.
"I'm telling you all about this because you deserve to know," said Margaret. "That's how I grew up and I want a different life for all of you."
With that, she gave me permission to claim that portion of my life I set aside. And today, as I was adding domestic violence statistics to the Author's Notes in my book, is it any wonder that I shed a few tears? I shed them for that little girl who wasn't sure she'd live this long.