Ask any writer why they write and you’re sure to get a different answer. It is an infinitely personal journey, each with its own driving force and influences.
For me, writing is often about telling one of the many stories that resides within me, each one clamoring for the need to get out and be heard by the world. It’s something that brings me great joy, and sometimes, no small amount of frustration too, but all-in-all it is a primarily gratifying experience. I am constantly filled with the need to create – be it by penning a tale, creating a piece of art, sewing a quilt, making a piece of jewelry, or baking something delicious to share with loved ones. Always, there is this relentless force that pushes me to share my creativity with the world.
There are other times, however, when my writing is driven by something else, something even more personal. Sometimes, my writing holds a far more significant weight, where each word can feel as though it is being drawn from my very soul like poison being excised from a wound. Sometimes, writing is a form of therapy.
I find myself exploring this facet of my writing now, deeply entrenched in book 3 of the Riley Cray series. What was supposed to be an oftentimes fun and exciting romp through the ranch lands of Texas, has become something a lot more introspective and personal. Early on in the planning process of the series when the characters existed more as fragmented notes and thoughts, than fleshed out personalities, I set myself some pretty firm rules regarding the genetic mechanics of lycanthropy, vampirism, etc. I won’t go into the details, but the general gist is that while all the various beasties (except for vampires) can reproduce with mundanes, they cannot inter-breed among themselves i.e. a fae and a magi can’t produce an offspring, or in the case of our intrepid heroes – a magi and a werewolf. When I originally set these rules for myself I didn’t give it all that much thought as anything other than a part of my world building endeavors. Now, however, I am faced with sharing Riley’s pain and regret at the fact she and Holbrook can never have children. In doing so, I am forced to once again face my own wounds in this area.
The year was 2009, and I was 26 years old. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was just over a year away from meeting the man who in another 3 (very short) months will become my husband. I was still groggy from the anesthesia, but for the first time in almost two years, free from pain. The doctor stood at the foot of my bed, handsome and charming as ever, as he said the words that brought me both relief and sorrow: “The surgery went well, but as we feared, there was extensive damage.”
After suffering two years of increasing agony that had pushed me to become even more of a recluse, and ultimately led to the loss of my job, my uterus had been reduced to a mass of blistered scar tissue by a severe case of Endometriosis. I had also simultaneously been suffering from cervical dysplasia which was gradually growing ever closer to developing into cervical cancer. My body was attacking itself, and the only cure was to excise those damaged parts of myself. And so, at 26 years old I underwent a full hysterectomy – the removal of my uterus, ovaries, and cervix. In a procedure that took only a few hours, the root of my suffering was removed, and I was relieved of pain. Or so I thought.
It’s now six years later, and while I know that there really were no other options available at the time, I realize that my younger self had no real idea of how much that decision would haunt me in the coming years, and indeed, cause me pain. Single and perhaps more than a little bitter from a long line of failed relationships, I managed to convince myself that losing the chance to someday be a mother was “no big deal” and a sacrifice I was all too happy to make in favor of my health. After all, what woman doesn’t want to be free of their “monthly visitor”?
I was without pain for the first time in as long as I could remember, and felt as though I could finally get back to living my life. I just didn’t know that living my life meant meeting the man of my dreams – the only man I’ve ever been able to envision myself raising a family with. There have been many ups and down in the past five years, times when I felt like the heartbreak of never being able to bring a child into this world would surely kill me more painfully than the threat of cancer ever could have, times when I felt as though I had sacrificed the thing that made me a “woman”, times when I felt as though I had truly lost my sense of self.
Two years ago my eldest brother and his wonderful wife were blessed with the most beautiful twin girls, and while I reveled in their good fortune, I couldn’t help but feel a soul-crushing emptiness inside myself. That hole plagued me for a long time, pulling me down into bouts of the darkest depression I have ever experienced. And all the while, Mr. Awesome Sauce was there by my side, offering me his support and love while coming to terms with his own future without children. Without his unwavering support, I really don’t know if I would have made it through the past two years. I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today as I sit here and write this post.
In part though, I also have Riley to thank for the place I find myself in – it has been through her journey that I’ve come to terms with aspects of my own life that are beyond my control. Like Riley and Holbrook, we’ll never know the joy of holding a baby that is a part of us both, I’ll never experience the sensation of a new life growing within me, or the wonder at bringing a new life into the world. We will however, always know that regardless of what the future holds, we have each other, we have love in our lives, and we have a world of opportunities available to us.
We do have plans to adopt a child if we can, but I think I have finally accepted the very real possibility that we may never have children, and for the first time since this all began, I’m genuinely okay with that. I have an amazing family who supports me, two beautiful nieces upon whom I can lavish my affection, friends whom I love dearly, and the most amazing man I have ever known by my side. Truthfully, what more could I ever ask for?