Ramonica W. PATtERSON, Author of The Heart and Soul series: Solace from Shadows, Light and Shadows, Dark Night of the Soul, and Light Over Dark Water.
I’ve always been a writer. A storyteller. A poet, and a dreamer. I’ve grown many characters and their stories during my life, but only in the last six years have I attempted to put them to paper.
The end result was the evolution of a supernatural romance Heart and Soul series, plus two well-developed outlines for stand-alone books.
Suffice it to say, the journey to self-publishing has been arduous.
But here I am—stepping from my comfort zone and relinquishing the written words to others.
As a mother of five sons in need of quiet time, I began writing after the boys’ bedtime and well into the wee hours of morning. Eventually, the back of my Suburban became an improvised writing space, too, as I watched baseball practices and games. I call it “stealing time,” because with a large family, time is a commodity of which there is never enough. Parking lots, drive-thru lanes and traffic jams offered quick writing opportunities that kept me focused and motivated throughout the years.
And so a mother’s life goes.
When the urge to write strikes, it is relentless.
So I wrote and wrote.
I wrote on napkins, notepads, receipts and bank stubs…and I wrote with a feeling of urgency. Once I began, I couldn’t stop until the initial story of Elaine Pearson and Ian Kearney was filed away on my computer…all 1000+ pages.
Within a month of finishing the first unedited draft, however, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, discovered during a mammogram as part of a regular checkup.
As with any family crisis, life slows. It sputters, stalls and eventually inches forward again—as it should. During this time, my husband and I anchored our sons (at the time, aged six to 14) as best as we could, and braced ourselves for the unknown. After double mastectomies, reconstructive surgery and recuperation, we reassembled our lives and forged ahead.
Over the subsequent four-and-a-half years since cancer, my sons have become sounding boards, (an admittedly biased audience; unconditional love is awesome), and have offered opinions, insights and laughter. They are perhaps my greatest fans.
Some days I only managed a sentence or two as I rewrote and revised one massive novel into the four-book Heart and Soul series. To cap off an already hectic life, our family’s unprecedented health issues over these last few years—a son’s juvenile arthritis diagnosis; another son’s surgery for a blown rotator cuff; another’s surgery for a ruptured appendix…and still, yet again, our youngest son surviving a K4 nocturnal grandmal seizure—have been challenging.
Writing hasn’t come easily from a “mommy” perspective, and sustaining an almost three-decade marriage and my husband’s aspirations of earning his doctorate, which he did, (while supporting our large family), well, it’s been tenuous at times.
It has been life at it’s purest and most raw.
It has been imperfectly perfect and authentic.
Beyond life happening, I’ve struggled with writer’s block. Self-doubt consumed a chunk of my life. Putting creative ideas to paper—or computer—wasn’t an option previously. The anxiety of criticism and judgment were too great.
Until one day something happened.
I cannot say what the epiphany was that shifted something in me…perhaps it was a chain-reaction of epiphanies that tore down the walls all at once. I’m not sure. I simply recall giving myself permission to write, to bleed red on the computer monitor and not look back. And that’s where it began. For better or worse, I began the story of Elaine and Ian. One word at a time, the story unfolded.
My journey to the here-and-now is rife with twists and turns, falls and bemoaning the woes from childhood forward. But perspective, clarity and laughter are powerful healing tools, and I know innately everything in this life (including batteries—ha ha) brought me to this moment. The books I’ve written are whimsically and loosely tinged with personal lessons learned, but infused with love and hope and faith.
As each fork in the road, sharp curve, sudden stop, derailment and skid mark has impacted my life in innumerable ways, the crux of everything is this: Life happens. We fall down. Sometimes instead of rising, we scrape by face down with skinned knees. But it’s progress, and once you have space for perspective and gratitude, man, is it good.
The Heart and Soul series includes: Solace from Shadows, Light and Shadows, Dark Night of the Soul, and Light Over Dark Water. Whew! It's been a rollercoaster ride for sure, but worth every second.
Well, this was a glimpse of how my books evolved. Between the words—written and spoken—is where I found my way.
Much love to those in the throes of the Good Fight.
R . W. Patterson