It’s an interesting decision of mine, to carry on writing my book, when due to it’s subject matter, I know that my chances of ever being published are about as high as Glenn McGrath’s invitation to MC an RSPCA conference.
And no, it’s not because the subject matter of my never-to-be-published book is some X-rated erotica where Christian Grey actually gets his penis out, or a threatening feminist tale about how women will ultimately rule the boardroom.
It’s about ‘grief’.
You see, I have it on good authority, (thank you Kerri Sackville), that the topic of ‘grief’ is not saleable – even though ‘death’ is something that affects all of us, no matter which party we vote for, demographic or country we live in.
In short, the first chapter of my book opens with a suicide – SHOCK! HORROR!– because no-one wants to be reminded that suicide happens, even when the number of cases has almost doubled in certain age groups over recent years; and with the increase in drug use and impact of social media and cyber-bullying, we are certain to witness a huge surge amongst young people).
In a year where suicide has been highlighted in Australia due to the untimely deaths of celebrities Charlotte Dawson and Robin Williams, how can we still be pushing education about mental health issues under the carpet?
But back to the book. So how exactly did I get my book so awkwardly wrong?
Well mainly because having spent the past thirty-plus years grieving, I know a little bit about that topic and the ensuing mental illness it can provoke. And as a friend (who is still grieving and feeling misunderstood) pointed out recently, no-one can really understand grief unless they’ve been there themselves; so suggestions from naïve do-gooders to ‘move on’ can be highly inflammatory.
I mean, I get it…sadness and anger are uncomfortable emotions to be around in this world where we are supposed to spray a mist of happiness around us, and pretend to be upbeat and personally successful all the time – to fit in.
But grieving is an exhausting preoccupation, and like depression, the uninitiated can interpret it as a type of self-flagellation. But let me assure you, it’s even more exhausting having to pretend not to be sad and in pain, simply to appease the undeveloped senses of those around you.
Spookily enough, depression is a huge theme in my book, too.
(Definitely a bestseller on my hands!)
Depression is another wrist-slapping/don’t-go-there topic in the world of publishing, I imagine?
The point is, my book is therapy for me. It’s a story I needed to tell. It’s a story that will force my readers to deal with skeletons in closets, mental illness, guilt, family dysfunctionality and self-development head on.
And you’ll know if you read my blog, I happen to be an expert in all of those areas.
But I don’t view my little piece of never-to-be-published fiction as a sad story. The death of a loved one changes the future of those closest to them, but it can also create a sense of awakening.
‘Growth’ can emerge from the isolating cocoon of grief.
And there are some funny bits in my book, too, because I find it impossible to be serious about serious stuff most of the time. Humor and self-deprecation have always been strategies to help me cope with blackness.
We’re not all afraid to confront our emotions, in spite of what those silly publishers believe.
Did I ever tell you about how my foot slipped on the wet mud at my mother’s funeral and I nearly plunged headfirst into the hole dug for her coffin?
She would have laughed her head off.