I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the original version of what would become Sisters: The Karma Twist, my latest novel. I started it seventeen years ago as my project for my senior fiction-writing workshop. My sister had died by suicide less than a year before and I wanted to tell the story of a woman college student who finds hope in the midst of change and loss. I worked on it at various times through the years, but it had been about five years since I’d done any work on it. When I picked it up in January 2011 (that is, opened the file on my computer), I thought I would revise it, make it stronger, and finish it.
Instead, I trashed the entire file and started over. After 17 years, the book I was then calling Sisters: The Baseball Twist didn’t work. I wondered how I thought I could write a novel so early in my grief, in a place where I was still processing why my sister ended her life. Starting the book when I did was my way of trying to understand it, to give it meaning.
But we also don’t know where our grief journeys will take us and the experiences we will have along the way. It took eight years to publish my first book Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si.... Later I understood that those eight years were important and helped to make the book what it was supposed to be – something I couldn’t finish until I had traveled a certain distance along the grief road.
The same could be said for Sisters: The Karma Twist. I first had to spin my grief around and listen to the stories of others before I could create the story that it became. The novel that it was supposed to be.
Next week: more on the story itself.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.