The game is Blog Tag and my witty friend, Susan Morse (http:/susanmorse.me) author of two wonderful memoirs, “The Habit” and “The Dog Stays in the Picture,” has tagged me to play on… Hopefully, you will learn something interesting about me as I try to articulate why I write this blog, and what’s next.
1. What are you working on?
I’m writing a book about my emotional and medical journey raising my mischievous, fun and challenging, now teenage special needs daughter,Leta, and decided the first step was to create a blog to get in the habit of writing down our adventures instead of just cleaning up after them! The blog has been up for almost 2 years now, and over 4,500 different new friends and strangers worldwide say I have touched their lives, made them laugh, made them cry, articulated their thoughts or inspired them in some small way. These comments are priceless to me. Right now, genetic researchers and doctors are working on groundbreaking research into Leta’s genetic mutation which apparently has huge implications for cancer research. Once these findings are public,I will feel closer to an ending to Leta’s story.
2. How does your work differ from other in its genre?
There are a lot of blogs written about special needs kids, mostly ones about raising kids with Autism. And when I started writing this blog, I thought it would be read mainly by parents of kids with special needs. But what I have found instead is that my audience base is just the opposite. People who read my blog are usually individuals who have pretty uneventful lives. My sense is that my writing gives others perspective and an appreciation for the “normal” lives they have. What I don’t want is to have readers read about Leta and feel sorry for her. And at times I worry that I am too preachy about my world of special needs. But, most of all, what I hope comes through is my boundless and unconditional love for Leta and the wacky humor she has brought to my life. Even if you aren’t raising a special needs child, everyone, I hope, can relate to life’s moments of absurdity. Other people’s kids may not strip buck naked on the steps of The Franklin Institute in front of an Amish Family or tackle the holy bread during an Easter Church service, but life is rarely perfect.
3.Why do you write what you do?
The easy answer is to say that writing this blog is cathartic. I’m laying it all out there, the good, the bad and the funny. This is who I am. I’m not sure what else to do with all these experiences, so I guess that writing gives me a venue for processing my life with Leta and all her crazy antics. It helps me find the humor and occasionally I stumble upon some life lessons that may resonate with other readers. I am so glad I have written it all down because so many of these stories of her childhood are already slipping away in my hazy memory. And I’m realizing that if I don’t write these vignettes down, I’ll forget the nuances of how they shaped me and my kids. And more importantly, years from now, when my kids are in therapy for their unconventional childhood, they will have my adult perspective to look back on for some clarity. I’m sure they will have their own memories of growing up with Leta; the insane moment’s of Leta’s tantrums while driving, her hair pulling, her dozens of hospitalizations, her outrageous behaviors in public, but I hope my voice will give them a lens into the experience that wasn’t fully realized by them as kids in the crossfires. Writing my blog, “Savingleta” has helped me articulate the things I have learned the hard way by being her mother;lessons about patience,prejudices,unconditional love and the meaning of the journey.In the end, my blog isn’t about what I have done to “save” Leta’s life. I am a bit player in the story. Leta continues to be the one doing the saving and the teaching of everyone whose life she touches.
4. What is your writing process?
I’m not sure I have a writing process yet. I like to go for walks or runs in The Wissahickon and mull over ideas for my blog entrys. I usually think about what I want to say for days and then I sit down at my computer and just write it out free-form for an hour or two. I don’t edit or revise anything at that point. I put it away and only return to my work a day or two later to edit and re-write. I do this exercise once or twice and then I’m usually done. I have a very short attention span for corrections. My final step in the process before posting a blog-entry is to send it to my dear friend Debra Klein in San Francisco. She gives me the validation, praise and confidence I desperately need to keep writing. Debra tells me it’s good, I believe her, and so I post. Writing is such a lonely process without external validation, so I am always so grateful for her comments and cheerleading.
Tagging Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve, author of the children’s book “Drizzle, adult fiction books,”Cranberry Queen” and “The Difference Between You and Me.” She has worked as a screenwriter,film producer and development executive. And currently Kathy teaches creative writing at her alma mater,The University of Pennsylvania. She is also an all around fabulous person, mom, and friend. You can find out more about Kathy’s work HERE or at http://www.kathyvancleve.com
I am also tagging Betsy Teutsch author of “100 Under $100:Tools for Empowering Global Women” which will be published in the Spring 2015 by SheWrites Press. Betsy lives in Mt Airy,Pa and has wide ranging interests that fascinate me endlessly. She is an artist, writer and blogger about sustainable living and social responsibility and chapter founder
of Weavers Way Dining for Women. You can find Betsy HERE or at www.WomensGlobalToolkit.com.