This month meet Linda Brendle. Her book, A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver's Tale of Life, Love and Chaos caught my eye as I myself had been a carer and I was interested in Alzheimer's and dementia. Linda describes the book as a work of creative nonfiction. It charts the seven-week journey taken by herself, a recovering co-dependent, the Kids, her ageing parents (her mother diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her father with dementia) and her husband, David. All of them share an RV as they travel through 16 US states. Quite a challenge for non-debilitated people!
The poignant account of Linda's role as carer expresses the sadness of her growing awareness of her parents' deteriorating health. She also becomes conscious of how the growing responsibilities for her parents change her relationship with her husband, David. Her love for her parents is supported by her unswerving faith which emerges as 'God's Words' at the beginning of every chapter. She lightens the serious nature of the book with flashes of humour to keep herself and those around her buoyant. And of course humour can diffuse difficult situations..
My Inspiration Comes from Others
Inspiration comes in many ways and from countless sources. My desire to write was stifled early in my life by a personality that avoided criticism at all costs and by a writing teacher who was super critical. That desire appeared briefly from time to time when I was asked to write an article for a club magazine or some catchy ad copy for a company brochure, but it resurfaced for real when I became a caregiver. When I shared my fears and frustrations with my aunt, who was a caregiver herself for many years, she advised me to keep a journal. I followed her advice occasionally, especially after a particularly trying incident, but when we embarked on our epic RV journey, I felt inspired to keep a daily record. That spiral notebook filled with handwritten scribbles became the basis of my first memoir.
The inspiration for my second memoir, which is due out in July, came from the readers of the first one. A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver's Tale of Life, Love and Chaos ends when our RV trip ended in 2007. Many readers asked, 'What happened next?' They had come to care about my family through the sharing of our challenges, and they wanted to know what had occurred after the trip. I had shared some of the intervening events in my blog, but since there seemed to be some interest in the rest of the story, I wrote Mom's Long Good-bye: A Caregiver's Tale of Life, Alzheimer's, Grief , and Comfort.
After my time of caring for my parents came to an end, my writing took a different direction-sometimes a lot of directions. In fact, the name of my blog is Life after Caregiving, On Caregivers, Faith, Family and Writing. However, three years ago I found a new source of inspiration. A couple came to my church one Sunday evening to tell us about their ministry which focuses on rescuing children who have become victims of sex trafficking. They told the story of a 13-year-old girl who had been targeted, groomed, and trafficked, not in the back streets of a foreign country or a big metropolitan area, but in the run-down motels on the outskirts of a small city about fifty miles east of our tiny town in East Texas. Her story touched my heart, and Tatia's Tattoo, a novel about sex trafficking in small- town America is due out later this year.
While inspirations and ideas for books are a challenge, I face an even bigger challenge each week. Several years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local weekly newspaper, and after a few offerings about the trials and tribulations of learning to live in the country for the first time, I was given a weekly column called City Girl. My deadline is Monday at 11:00 am, and on Sunday evenings, I can often be found sitting in front of a blank computer screen wondering what to write about. My inspirations come from interesting people and situations- in fact, no one in my immediate area is safe. My friends often warn each other to be careful around me because they might end up in my column.
My favorite source of inspiration, though, is the response I receive from readers. I enjoy seeing my numbers go up, whether it's Amazon reviews and sales, blog hits or Twitter followers. But my main purpose in writing is to amuse, encourage and inspire my readers. I love it when I receive an email, Facebook comment, or face-to-face interaction in which someone says: I laughed out loud, I thought I was the only one, or That's a good idea. I'll try it. That's when I feel inspired to go back to the keyboard.