Writing about losing Mark saved my life. The journal’s pages were a place to vent my angers and fears. Writing the story of my recovery, however, was quite a different thing. Though I graduated high school and college with honors, English was not my forté. I read books and wrote papers as homework assignments only. From when I was very young, I spent my spare time singing and playing sports. I had a lot to learn about writing if I was to tell my story and tell it well.
A majority of the grief books I read during my recovery were “how to” books. They discussed the stages of grief and how to work through them. Some books compared losing someone you love to losing a job or breaking up with a boyfriend. These books made me angry. Books by authors that encouraged me to walk in their foot steps, feel their pain and be a part of their healing, helped in my recovery and allowed me to see I was not alone. These books, memoirs, gave me hope.
Though I knew I would write BACK ON THE COURT early on, the knowledge swam around in my head for many years. When I told my husband Jason that I was going to write a book, he looked at me dumbfounded, “What do you mean? you don’t write.” He was correct; other than journaling after the accident, I didn’t write. But I was, and am, focused and stubborn when I have a goal. I had a story to tell (that I felt could help people), and it had to be told. I remember my mom telling me in grade school that I was a great writer. “The Honey Bunny” was not great writing, but my mom’s words so long ago somehow spoke to me and also gave me hope that if I worked at it, I could find a way to become a better writer and tell my story.
My book, BACK ON THE COURT, was more than 10 years in the making. I started writing it by pulling vivid scenes from my memory and putting them down on paper. Then I took a weekend writing class at the University of Washington that led to hiring a writing coach. (Of course as an athlete, coach was something I could relate to.) Waverly Fitzgerald praised my broken and painfully sparse writing, giving me the support and knowledge to continue to follow the often lonely and frustrating path of a writer. This writer’s path led me back to the University of Washington, the Memoir Certificate Program, and to Laura Kalpakian. Laura became my teacher, mentor and friend and opened up the world of writing for me. After a year-long course our memoir class continued to meet and critique one another’s work (as in Laura’s novel,The Memoir Club). And it is thanks to all of them that I continue to grow as a writer.
BACK ON THE COURT was written on locker room benches at the YMCA, during PTA meetings and late at night after I’d finished modeling, playing or coaching basketball or helping with homework. As the kids went to school, writing crept into my days and when it’s time to hang up the high tops one day, a long time from now I hope, writing will help fill the gap. I am happy when I write. It’s not always easy to find the time but when I sit down at the computer and pull up a blank document or grab a pen and open my journal, I can’t believe there was ever a day when I didn’t write.