Aug 252012
 

Open Book Gateway

Open Book Gateway, Photograph by Jacky Oh Yeah

The long awaited update post. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in December - another easy homebirth, but another silent reflux baby. She hasn't yet fully outgrown the reflux, but she started crawling at six months and is now pulling herself up to stand at eight months. Her brother hasn't coped very well with the addition of a constantly crying baby to his life, and turning three didn't help, either. We have had to take several steps back and re-group often. But now that the doldrums of winter are finally beginning to shift into spring, we are all feeling a little bit lighter-hearted.

A month after my baby was born, my mother died. It wasn't unexpected; she had been seriously ill and partially disabled since 2007. But when someone is given a prognosis of 18 months or so remaining of their life, but fights for another four years, it comes as a bit of a shock when they succumb after all those extra years. One becomes used to the seeming invincibility of that person, however frail they may be. I had a very troubled relationship with my mother, and last year she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, which answered a lot of questions, and which was a huge relief to her because she said she felt she was finally understood. I will cover more detail in other posts, but I stood up to her last year and provoked a change in our relationship, received an apology from her for her abusive behaviour throughout my childhood, and we reconciled in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I was (we were) lucky to end that chapter with no regrets. I'm just a little sad that I didn't get to test that new relationship, to have conversations with her that I never would have dared have before. And I feel sad that circumstances meant she never got to meet her grandchildren in person.

I did successfully complete the first draft of my novel before my daughter was born. 156 days in a row of writing every single day. That's five months. 111 days in a row of hitting a target greater than 270 words. My daily average across the six months was 317 words per day (so I tripled my starting goal). I feel very happy with what I achieved, and especially with the knowledge that I can repeat that process and succeed again any time I choose.

You would think, therefore, that I would be in the process of editing that novel, but, true to form, I've taken on something else. I'm in the middle of a major editing job on another author's novel. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, though, and my client is a pleasure to work with.

So. Come up for air. Breathe. Dive.

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Elle Carter Neal

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, holding childhood slumber-party audiences entranced until the early hours of the morning. Elle decided to be an author the day she discovered that real people wrote books and that writing books was a real job. Join Elle on her new publishing adventure.

  6 Responses to “End of a Chapter”

Comments (6)
  1. “One becomes used to the seeming invincibility of that person, however frail they may be. I had a very troubled relationship with my mother, and last year she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, which answered a lot of questions, and which was a huge relief to her because she said she felt she was finally understood. I will cover more detail in other posts, but I stood up to her last year and provoked a change in our relationship, received an apology from her for her abusive behaviour throughout my childhood, and we reconciled in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I was (we were) lucky to end that chapter with no regrets. I’m just a little sad that I didn’t get to test that new relationship, to have conversations with her that I never would have dared have before. And I feel sad that circumstances meant she never got to meet her grandchildren in person.”

    These words here: chills. This is exactly the words I’d use to describe the relationship, or non relationship with my mother. She was abusive, neglectful, physical, violent. She was diagnosed with dementia in December, and at age 88, has become the kind, encouraging, supportive woman we never had as a mother. She has no recollection of how she abused us physically and emotionally.

    I’ve had to put that behind me, and help this poor, frail woman in the last days of her life.

    Even though there has never been love for us, from her.

    What a strange thing, to see my life put here: in your words.

  2. Hi Alexandra,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. It’s good to meet you. It’s “nice” not to be alone, but I’m sorry, though, that you identify so much with what I’ve written and that you’ve experienced what I’ve experienced.

    My mother was 65 when she died. That’s a lot of years to live without really understanding oneself, without introspection, and without authenticity. I feel very sad for people who feel they have to hide their real self from everyone, including themselves.

  3. My mother and I have begun to treat each other better; I am more forgiving and she is trying to be kinder. Perhaps it is because of my job and the constant stretching of my own patience that this change has come about. But it’s been a long time in coming.

    Congratulations on completing the first draft of your novel. That is wonderful news. I can’t wait to read it.

  4. I’m glad to hear that, Karen. Have you given her a copy of your book, yet? What did she say about the pseudonym? I had one of my fairy stories printed on Lulu and sent it to my mother a few months before she died, and explained all about the pen name. She took it very well indeed, even referring to me as “Elle” once or twice, verbally and in text messages. That was weird, considering I usually say to people, “Only my mother calls me Elsa.” (Well, my mother and Lauri Kubuitsile 😉

    My mother didn’t get around to reading my book, though.

  5. You’ve been through so much. I am glad you and your Mum had those positive moments towards the end. I can relate to your situation very well but I wanted to say more than anything how proud I am of you for writing and finishing that draft (with a new bubby too!) You are an inspiration!!!

  6. Thank you Selma! That means so much to me. xx

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