Writing my book Peace on the Journey was a joy. I also felt pride because of its potential for helping those about whom Dr. Joan Barice has said, “For those struggling with chronic illness, loss of a loved one, or any major life challenge, these Peace on the Journey poems affirm that one can still choose to smile and resolutely renew life. Facing hardship honestly but tempering it with hope, these healing poems light a path out of despair.”
While my joy and pride came in part from seeing my name on a published book, they also came from knowing that this book is a fundraiser as well. Ten percent of its net proceeds are designated for the Myelin Repair Foundation, a deserving research organization which might transform the lives of millions suffering from MS.
Yet, I have dreaded the promotional stage of this book’s journey. Then I realized, how will anyone know about the book if I don’t tell them about it? How will potential readers benefit if no one feels motivated to purchase the book? I must enjoy promoting this book as much as I did writing it.
Still, promoting a book of poetry has felt strange.The thing is, I never expected to produce a book of poetry. I was, I thought, a published short story author seeking to be recognized for her novels some day. Then, in 2009, in addition to this blog focused on literary and cultural themes, I started another one called Peace Be with You. The reason was I wanted to write anonymously about my own journey with MS. Somehow, that MS blog segued from prose into poetry. Don’t ask me why. It just happened, and I went along.
After posting the blog’s poems, though, I was stunned at some of the reactions I started getting, and not just from those affected by MS. I received comments like: “With your words I see hope and understanding … At times, your words say what I’m feeling that I couldn’t find the words for.” Another reader said, “You always manage to speak the words that are in my heart and mind.”
Then, people began asking if the poems were available in a book. I kept saying, no, no, no. First, I didn’t know if I was physically up to producing a book. Second, I still resisted identifying myself as a poet. Then, one day, I realized that I might not be a poet with a capital P, but my writing was resonating with readers. Why not provide the book they were asking for?
I proceeded to winnow my blog’s roughly 1100 poems into 366. This format would offer a year’s worth of poems for anyone dealing with loss of any kind. Over the next two years, during which there was some teeth gnashing and, yes, a few choice curse words, I finalized the manuscript for publication.
Now, the paperback and Kindle editions are available on Amazon. Not infrequently, I gaze at the book with a sense of wonder. Did I really write this? Daily, for my own inspiration, I read the book’s poems on my Kindle. Strangely, the poems read as if someone else has written them. They feel transformative, though I am already deeply familiar with their content. Indeed, Peace on the Journey feels like the universe’s gift to me.