There is a moment I remember from childhood, sitting beside my mother as we took turns reading page after page of different stories. She was the first storyteller I knew, because in those early days of my reading life, she was the one who shared them with me.
As a child, it's difficult to distinguish the difference between the person telling the stories and the person who actually wrote them. When I realized there were other people who wrote those stories, that knowledge didn't diminish the connection I had to reading and my mother. They were too entwined to separate one from the other. And somewhere along the way, I realized I wanted to write my own stories. So, in a way, I suppose that is the where the story of my writing life begins.
The thing about being a writer, is that it takes a tremendous amount of support when the difficult days appear, which they undoubtedly do in the creation of something from nothing. And the thing about writing women, as in real female characters, is knowing what makes them wonderful. My mother has always supported me as I've continued to chase this dream of publication. And she is one of those wonderful women I aspire to be and to write.
Now I know someday soon, people will read about my main character's mother and maybe they will believe I've captured my own on the page. I've already told my mom that she is everything good about Camryn's parents, because she is and always has been the goodness in my life. And while mothers often have complicated roles in stories, especially of the YA variety, I wanted to ensure I captured the complicated reality of parenthood within my book.
One of my favorite lines I've written reminds:
"Parents were sometimes the strangest of creatures; not really people, but more like shells meant to fit their children inside the lives they used to have: to make them better, to love them more."
This is one of those moments when character observations reveal my own truths. Because mothers are strange. I've seen the way my mother has worked to make me better, to love me more. She is not a character in a story, but the living embodiment of strength and kindness, love and light. And while today is a day we celebrate all mothers, for myself as a writer, I try to celebrate my mother in my writing, in pursuing my dream of publication, and in continuing to tell stories.
"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."
So here is to my mother, the strongest woman I know. I aspire to be her, and am grateful every day that she raised me to be the kind of woman willing to keep going even amidst the most difficult days. After everything, my story will always begin and end with her.