Writing Solo Together

Two weeks after Dr. Phil called in the winter of 2004, (scroll to bottom for that story) Cathy and I met to talk about writing a book about our reunion and turning points in our subsequent relationship. Drafts later, the finish seems closer.

We started autonomous blogs, mothertone (mine) and reunioneyes (hers) that tell the story of our story. Following the same premise as our collaboration; we write on the same topic from our unique views without sharing blogs.

We have been writing mutual chapters to describe our experience. Starting “At 18” with snapshots of who we were at that age. Me, an eighteen year-old pregnant with Cathy in 1971. Cathy, a high school graduate who decided to look at her birth records for more information about who she was the day after she turned 18. That was in 1989.

Now, it’s 2012. The day we met as strangers twenty-three years ago set a stage that has reconciled characters we had only imagined until then with the people we are. An overlay of compassion and respect imbues a simmering pot of ingredients we share. We recognize our differences and explore them with sensitivity and curiosity that reminds me just how lucky we are to have come this far, or not. It is not without gratitude that we write.

We are also grateful to those who hold our story and encourage us.

Still, the truth can be delicate – not how we wish it was or how it might have been if things had been different. We write our sides as they went. I don’t know what she has written but that doesn’t bother me, nor does it matter as much as the fact that we get to do this together. We are collaborators.

I get to partner with my daughter in an uncanny act. To tell our story through the lens and voices of our tale’s characters, Cathleen and Kathleen, she and me. Behind my apparent confidence, I certainly wonder who I’ll see in her eyes and guess that she wonders who she’ll find in mine. It’s scary but not enough to stop.  We trust it. We trust each other. That’s enough.

Our project has been a touchstone between us for eight years now. We slog forth and do the best we can to get the writing done and to meet draft deadlines in between marriages, babies, business shifts and a traveling worklife. No matter how much we each procrastinate and grumble, we are eager to complete what we started.

When we come together, we sit facing each other – laptops to laptop – and write, sometimes for a few hours, and on rare occasions for days with breaks for meals and sleep. Once in a while, one will ask the other a question (usually related to chronology or food.) The rest of the time the only sound is that of the keys on our computers tapping. Sometimes one or the other wipes a watery eye; other times a “Yes!” squeals out approval in the air for a piece that finally unfolds just right. We cheer each other on unwittingly and then zoom back in to our screens….tappity, tappity, tap. Time passes too quickly, always.

So far the only real cost has been in time and discretionary privacy – the fee for serving a demographic that has had little to no voice in modern literature. We hope that this story will help people discover useful truths about what it’s like to be in our roles as we point to the practical and miraculous as it happened to us.

As long as we don’t share our writing with each other, it is you, dear reader, who will know better than either of us, how it goes. Comments would be most welcome.

When we’re done, it won’t surprise me to miss this work with Cathy. Even unread and ignorant of her chapters, I love the bond of our work together; it makes me relish what would otherwise be too hard.

If sharing our complicated (or are they simple?) sides brings a new level of understanding to those who might benefit from hearing one true story of a secret daughter and a secret mother who found more than each other in reunion – it will have been worth it.

To view my daughter”s blog on the same topic, go to http://reunioneyes.blogspot.com

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