A little over a year ago, I was sitting in a hotel room in Salt Lake City by myself. I had traveled all the way from California so that I could help my sister through her husband’s first chemo treatment. I was feeling heavy from the conversation I had with my sister earlier that day. She’d cried and told me about how this was not supposed to be her life. This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen to you when you’re 26. It’s not fair. I sat and thought about my niece who would soon test positive for the same genetic mutation as her father. One that makes cancer an inevitability for women.
And then, words started flowing into my heart and like any author worth her salt, I began to write them down.
The year since then has been an intense labor of love on a verse novel that is more personal than anything else I’ve ever written. So many of the poems were penned after receiving more bad news. They were written as I began a grieving process, as I contemplated death and family and life all while watching my sister and her young family struggle through this terrible disease.
And through it all, I had Cindy. Cindy was the very first person to read this book, when it was still a very first and rough draft. And she believed in it from the beginning. Her faith in it has never faltered. Her own experience with a chronic and terminal illness brought love and insights that have been invaluable.
But publishing isn’t easy. And trying to get what literally feels like a piece of your heart published is extraordinarily painful when the rejections start rolling in. Cindy knew that. She always seemed to know when I was struggling. And back in September she began sending me these weekly text messages. She would tell me how much she loved my book. How she knew it was going to get published. How special it was. And that even though it hurt too much for me to believe in my book, that she was believing in it for me.
Those notes and texts meant everything. They still mean so much and keep me going. I don’t know how I lucked out and got her to agree to read a rough draft of this crazy, experimental novel. But it was one of the best things to ever happen to my writing. I don’t know if this book will be published one day. I hope so. But for now, I’m hanging on to every bit of encouragement Cindy sends my way. She has made my writing life 100% better this year, and I’m so thankful for her friendship.
To celebrate notes of encouragement, I’m giving away three beautiful, handmade cards from 9th Letter Press.
Amanda Rawson Hill lives in the central valley of California with her husband and three children. When not homeschooling, knitting, baking, reading, or gardening, she’s probably on social media or writing. She’s had a non-fiction article in Highlight’s for Children, and an e-picture book originally published with Meegenius and recently acquired by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.