…than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou
So true, Ms. Angelou, you brilliant wordsmith, you. This dalliance with writing a young-adult fantasy fiction novel has taught me that — wait for it — writing is hard. Especially when you’re your own worst, most heinous, seriously rude and neurotic, critic. And it’s even harder when you’re trying to tell a story that is in your blood and in your bones, and compels you to want to share the pure gold of your own experiences with everybody you know and everybody you’ve never met. And on the flip side of that coin, you NEVER want anyone to read it EVER because you created it and what if it’s TERRIBLE!
See what I mean?
I never knew I was bipolar until I started to write a story. (I can say that I’m a psychologist).
My story started out totally different than it is now, but the common theme and my two main characters have made it through all the revisions. The concept of “soul-mates” or “kindred spirits” is alive and well throughout Iris Black and The Seven Sisters, and it keeps coming back to me, wrapping my knuckles like a stern old nun when I try to stray to something that I think is better fitting. But it never is. This is what I’m supposed to write about.
The first time I heard the term “kindred spirits,” I was watching Anne of Green Gables with my gaggle of siblings. I can picture us now, all strewn about the living room each in our own respective “spots.” Juice probably dripping onto the carpet somewhere. Our dog snoring against the cold stone of the fireplace. And certainly there was a baby crying, as the oldest of seven there always seemed to be a baby crying. But, alas, time stopped when we got to the scene (raise your hand if you know it), when Anne is forced to stay away from Diana because she accidentally got her drunk on Marilla’s raspberry cordial. These few minutes are forever stamped in my memory. Anne (with an ‘e’) declares with such drama that she and Diana are kindred spirits, as close as two friends could be, yet fated in that moment to be apart. Oh the agony! To my 10 year-old self, this was utterly devastating. And it was even more tragic in the book! Anne had it right, “parting is such sweet sorrow!” Yes, I know Shakespeare said this first.
Since those days of watching Anne and Diana (and Matthew – RIP), on continuously rewound VHS tapes, I’ve been blessed immeasurably in my own life to have a few fellow humans whom I consider to be “kindred spirits.” In my mind, a kindred spirit is someone who just “gets you,” inside and out, who knows and tolerates your quirks, good and bad, even when you’re painfully unaware of them yourself. Someone who trusts you with their vulnerabilities in times of need, and miraculously provides you with the same level of comfort should you need it. A person who has not only shared the parts of your life that have been the highest of the high, but has been with you, steadfast and unwavering, when you’re in “the depths of despair.” A person who can sum up the litany of “what ifs” in your mind with one crystal clear sentence, and lets you know in an instant that it’s all going to be okay.
Best friends, soul mates, and kindred spirits come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and creeds. And in my story, I wanted to draw upon my own fortune when writing about two teenage girls called, Iris and Emmy. Why teenagers? Adolescence fascinates me. It did when I watched it on VHS, and it did when I was one of them. Today, I can’t help but be in awe of some these prepubescent humans with whom I work, who struggle through one of the hardest parts of life. I like to call it the ‘hormone tornado,’ and no I would not drink from The Fountain of Youth if it meant going back there. In the anarchic storm of these years, I wanted to highlight the magic that can really find its footing in this stage — the magic being the unconditional love and selflessness that comes with being a “best friend.”
In today’s world, I guess Iris and Emmy would be referred to as “bff’s” or “bffe’s” if we want to get really technical. And it’s strange, because I already know the fate of these two friends, after only having written the first book but seeing the ending of what I think will be the sixth. And it’s beautiful and sad and joyous and heartfelt and I can’t wait for people to read it. I hope that all the adventures that Iris and Emmy (and many more) share with one another will inspire us to truly treasure the people who mean the most, and to never express our love sparingly. Never, ever. Because life is short, after all. And there are only so many adventures to be had with the people connected to our souls.
Perhaps Jean de la Fontaine put it best (17th century French poet): “Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.” Oh, I just love that.
Here is the first chapter of Iris Black and the Seven Sisters, on its 90 millionth rewrite, but I’ve got to stop somewhere, and this has to be it. Probably.
Chapter 1 – Fate’s First Twist
“This is a story about the fate of two friends — and one of these friends is inescapably doomed. Fate, it’s a fickle thing. One day you wake up and the only thing on your mind is whether you’ve got clean socks and a sharpened pencil for that algebra test, and all is well. And by “well” I mean normal, comfortable, boring, and familiar. But then fate twists! As it’s been known to do, and the next day, well, you’re escaping certain death right alongside the one person you love most in this world. Just like that. Fate. Destiny. Kismet. Serendipity. Whatever you call it, when the stars that belong to you align like they do for the two friends in this story, let me tell you, you’re really in for it.”