Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Well, as I bleed through the first draft of my next book, Transgressions in Rouge, I am learning the truth of Hemingway’s statement, along with a breathtaking amount of my own truth.
Transgressions is based on the story of my life as an adoptee and abuse survivor. It is also the story of my adoptive father, who lived an angry lie during the first 60+ years of his life. It was a lie so deeply buried (and secret) that it ate away his humanity, and ability to be a decent father or human being. My father was a transgender woman.
As I research the male-to-female transition process, I discover more of my adoptive father’s psyche than I ever understood while he was alive. He died in February. Some of you will recall the Eulogy that I penned for him that month. I wrote it in a whirlwind of pain.
My father’s only friend (who had her daughter call me about Jo’s death) made me out to be an evil person, a sorry daughter who abandoned the righteous woman she’d befriended. During that phone call, I whimpered out my story to the stranger on the phone. I explained that my family was the victim of Jo’s hard handed actions. I told her about the brutal attacks, wondering out loud if they might have been born of Jo’s desperate cover-up of her true self. Jo was angry at us, herself, the world and resolved her frustration with both fists raised.
Writing a novel that is based on my life is like pulling my lower lip over my head, and hanging a bowling bowl from the end.
It sucks, and then again, it doesn’t.
For along with the writing down of scenes so dramatic they adapt seamlessly to fiction,
- Dad drowning neighbor’s cats in the backyard.
- Dad kicking Mom until she had internal bleeding.
- Dad brushing my seven-year-old brother’s teeth until blood poured from his gums
…there is relief and a deeper understanding of the insanity that was my childhood. When I look at the events as a writer, the motives of everyone involved become clearer. The strong do not loom half as large as they appeared when I was a child living each crisis.
There is power and perspective in bleeding on paper.
Write, weep, repeat.
Blessings that you find your demons and the power to slay them,
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