Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Gesture Writing": Some Good Advice for Writing about Adoption

Did you see the interesting essay called "Gesture Writing" in Sunday's New York Times Review section? Author Rachel Howard explains how her job as a nude model for art classes led to some information about how to write better, something she calls Gesture Writing. She says, "realizing that writing is a lot like drawing gives us a deeper approach. Because really, before we put a word or a mark on the page, both writers and artists must first step back and see. And seeing is not simple."

This article appeared at a perfect time for me, as I am wading through my manuscript (it's about the decade I spent as a wilderness guide while I searched for my birth parents) and trying to connect the chapters. Howard made me realize that I, too, am looking for the gesture in my writing, trying to "step back" from the page  and see the overall movements, gestures of the work.

Good advice.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Novel: Jennifer Gilmore's The Mothers

Yesterday on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Jennifer Gilmore, author of a new novel about a couple going through the process of open adoption. (Click here to link to the interview.) One of many things that intrigued me about Gilmore and her book was that she said that although her novel draws heavily upon her personal experiences with adopting a child, she chose to write fiction rather than memoir because she wanted to be tougher on her main character than she thought she could be on herself. I liked hearing that because it indicated that this novel would not be all roses and snuggles and babies in blankets, that we might perhaps meet an adoptive mother character who has flaws, and by extension, an adoption system that has flaws.

I haven't yet read the book. Have you? Want to weigh in?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Birth Day

Yesterday was my birthday. Many lovely friends and family members reached out to me to wish me happiness via Facebook, text, phone, and in person.

An adopted friend wrote, "Happy Birthday, Andrea. If birthdays are as difficult for you as they are for me, I wish you the best in getting through yours. If not, then just have a great day!" It was a sweet, empathetic message, and it really made me feel for my friend.

There were many years in my early adulthood when an impending birthday would bring with it feelings of dread and sadness. On many May 20ths I woke up in the morning wondering who I really was, what it meant that I was born, and if the woman who had borne me was thinking about me on that day.

I compensated for these negative feelings by planning elaborate birthday adventures so that I would be too busy to think those sad thoughts. But the sad thoughts always crept back to me anyway.

I'm happy to say that since I reunited with my birth families, even though learning how to be in relationship with them has at times been challenging, I no longer dread my birthday. I don't languish in bed wondering if I deserve to exist on this planet.

Birthdays are no longer a big deal to me anymore. I don't need anyone to make a big fuss just to prove they love me, I don't make elaborate plans so I can celebrate myself. I deeply enjoy hearing from friends, but I don't sit around waiting for the phone to ring.

There is tremendous power in knowing where we came from, and those of us who are or were denied that knowledge tend to struggle. Our struggles manifest in various ways, but they are struggles nonetheless.

For any of you reading who do not have access to information about some part of your family, some part of where you are from, that integral part of the self, please know that my heart is with you.