Book: Introduction

This weekend I wrote the introduction to my non-fiction project – Suicide: A Mother’s Story. I want the first paragraph to be quite powerful. It has to grab the reader and pull them right in (this is essential for any reader, but especially so if the reader is an editor of a publishing company). I feel I achieved that goal. The words that follow come from the heart. It’s important to get the reasons for the book firmly established at this point. Then…I have a one sentence last paragraph that should leave the reader in a state of “reality” shock.

The introduction is only four (double spaced) pages. This isn’t long, but I believe everything that needs to be said, has been covered. It took me a long time to write. I kept changing my mind and then rearranging the paragraphs, adding this and deleting that, but eventually I was happy.

I’ve made a start. I’m not sure where to go from here. I think I’ll write our story first. The posts from another website whick was used as a diary have been copied into a word document. This will be my starting point. The posts were written at the time everything was happening and are the most accurate account of what happened. Naturally, I plan on expanding on the posts. I also want to write about Barry’s life before I go any further. However, I’m finding this extremely difficult to do. My mind isn’t allowing the memories to come through in chronological order, but I’ll find a way around that.

Leaving Early: Youth Suicide

Leaving Early: Youth Suicide – the horror, the heartbreak, the hope by Bronwyn Donaghy is a book about … well, exactly what the title suggests.

It takes the reader and plants her (as in me in this case) in the middle of three families. The words are written by a published writer who hasn’t experienced suicide herself, but Ms Donaghy obviously felt the families pain and torment. The words are powerful, because the stories are powerful.

The heart rendering stories of Collin, Jason and Maz are contrasted by cold, hard facts. The two are literally placed side by side. The author draws the reader in with emotion in one chapter and then swaps over to hard hitting facts in the next. As the pages turn, almost by themselves, I was left feeling battered and bruised from the experience. I can’t count the times I had to put the book aside and walk away, my vision blurred with tears. This is not an easy book to read, but I felt compelled to return to it and read more about the families and learn more about suicide.

Published in 1997, Leaving Early is a little dated with the information supplied, especially the statistics. However, it was interesting to see that many of the suggestions made in the book for improving suicide awareness have been implemented. Unfortunately, the suicide rate continues to climb, so it hasn’t made much difference. I believe this is because most parents think “it won’t happen to us” and tune out.

I suspect only those affected by suicide would consider picking up the book. This is a shame, because if we can educate the parents and their children before tragedy strikes, more lives might be saved.

…For us surviving parents, this grief is ever after. The isolation, guilt, despair and frustration that most of us feel is the legacy our children have left us. Now, too late, we understand what they must have been going through in the days and hours leading up to their death.

It would be naïve to believe that we can make suicide go away, but with care, intelligence, knowledge, sensitivity and genuine concern for our fellow man, perhaps we could hope to reduce these frightening figures.

We have to start somewhere. No one should have to farewell their child at a morgue.

– the words of Ruth Anderson as published in the book Leaving Early by Bronwyn Donaghy –

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – if only I had been suicide aware, Barry might still be with us today.

This book is not only about suicide, it also gives the reader hope, which is something every family member loses in the face of death. Whilst Collin and Jason ended their lives – leaving their families wounded, grieving and angry – Maz’ life continued. Desperate, Maz attempted suicide, but she was found before it was too late and rushed to hospital. Afterwards, her brother took Maz under his wing and showed Maz that someone loved her, and always had. This one small act opened the doors of communication and that put Maz on the road to life again.

I started reading this book as research for the book I intend to write on the same subject. But, my wounds are still raw, and the words in this book are strong. I learned a lot about writing a non-fiction book, but I learned more about suicide and grief. This book should be read by everyone, not only the families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Editing Complete

Friday will now be officially changed to Karenday. I think it has a nice ring to it, even if you don’t. :p

Karenday is my day off. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be the case forever, but until the end of June 2007, it certainly is. When my bosses granted me this day of freedom, I was determined to make proper use of it. And so far, I have (except for the first Friday, when I was sick).

Today, I spent my time working on the edit of Cat’s Paw. I was working on the last two chapters, but the second last chapter was by far the hardest to edit. I rewrote large chunks of it, because the content was so terrible. Every time I thought I had finished. I would take a break and go back and read through the chapters again and make more changes. I must of done this a done or so times.

At 8pm (which surprises me, because I thought I’d be up half the night) I finally read the two chapters and made minimal changes. At the end, I was satisfied that the work is over.

You might have noticed the work in progress bar in the sidebar, but in case you haven’t, Cat’s Paw Version 2 is done, complete, finished!

The final word count has risen by over 2,000 words, but that’s fine too. The official count is: 26,708 words (remember, I’m writing for 8 to 12 year olds).

I’ve done the best I can with it and now, I want and need critiques. I need honest readers to read the story and tell me what they think is confusing, delightful, and what scenes are a complete waste of their time (assuming these things exist, of course).

Critique Circle was quite helpful with the first book, so I will put the chapters through there again too. I always find critiques more helpful than not. They make a huge difference to the quality of the story. That doesn’t mean I’ve never received a bad critique. It means I know when to listen and when to disregard. That’s the key in receiving crits.